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Southern Cross Tower Bridge Care Centre: regulator issues warning notice

Southern Cross has been issued with a warning notice by the Care Quality Commission after inspectors visited the Tower Bridge Care Centre at Bricklayers Arms and found concerns with the administration of medicines to the home's residents.

Tower Bridge Care Centre

The Tower Bridge Care Centre can accommodate up to 128 residents, including some with dementia.

CQC inspectors visited the centre in July and have just published their report which reveals that enforcement action has been taken.

According to the report, "the service does not fully protect people against the risks associated with the unsafe use and management of medication by means of the making of the appropriate arrangements for the administration, recording and disposal of medicines".

Inspectors found no problems with the handling of medicines when they carried out their main visit on 21 July but returned on 29 July "after receiving concerning information".

"At our second visit we found some discrepancies between the information recorded on medicines charts, stock balance sheets and disposal logs on one particular day," said the inspectors. "This indicated that some doses of medicines may not have been given."

The inspectors also found that some residents were being given medicine later than prescribed. For example, "medicines due at 8am were being given as late as 11am".

A report published this week reveals that Southwark Council pays for 56 people to be cared for at the Tower Bridge centre.

The council says that in the current financial year it expects to pay nearly 2 million to Southern Cross and its successors in connection with the Tower Bridge Care Centre.

"The council has operated embargoes against the local [Southern Cross] homes over the last year, due to concerns regarding the quality of care," says Susanna White, strategic director of health and community services, in a report prepared for next week's meeting of the borough's health and adult social care scrutiny committee.

"These embargoes had been lifted earlier this year for Tower Bridge and Camberwell Green, although the embargo continues at Burgess Park for all but very exceptional placements that are being requested by the family.

"The quality standards in the homes continue to be closely monitored to ensure that the organisational problems do not impact upon the care being delivered on the ground."

The scrutiny committee papers also reveal that the Tower Bridge Care Centre is expected to be transferred to HC-One, a new care provider established by NHP and Court Cavendish as part of the restructuring of Southern Cross.

Southern Cross announced in July that it would cease to operate as a care provider. The Tower Bridge Care Centre building is owned by Jersey-based Libra Careco whose ultimate owners are based in the Cayman Islands. The Libra Careco companies are part of NHP which owns 249 of Southern Cross's 700+ homes.

Southern Cross told us that they would provide a response to the CQC's findings but no statement had been received by the time of publication.

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