THE COUNCIL has vowed to make improvements after healthcare watchdogs accused it of putting patients at risk.

Birchwood Care Home in Newbury was rated 'inadequate' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and was promptly plunged into special measures.

The centre, which is run by West Berkshire Council, has 60 beds and caters for adults with a range of needs, but was failing to safely manage medicines.

The CQC previously said Birchwood required improvement, but under the council's guidance it slumped into a lower category.

Inspectors were particularly critical of Birchwood's leadership and responded to intelligence after complaints about poor management and failure to report incidents.

A council spokesman said: "The council took over Birchwood in June when it had ‘requires improvement’ status and promptly identified further areas of concern which also needed tackling.

"We are already implementing a clear action plan to not only bring standards at Birchwood in line with our other care homes, which are all rated ‘good’, but also to offer ten step down beds to help speed the recovery of people who would otherwise have to stay in a hospital.

"However, this will take longer than the four month period on which the CQC have judged.

"We are obviously disappointed with the judgement but acknowledge that there is work to be done to bring Birchwood up to our own high standards.

"We look forward to the next inspection and we expect many of our planned improvements to be well established by then. "

Birchwood was rated 'inadequate' in three of the five key areas of assessment and required improvement in the effectiveness and caring categories.

The inspection report added: "People were not kept safe. Risk assessments and comprehensive documentation was not in place to ensure people were offered responsive safe care and treatment.

"Staff did not appropriately record information. Incidents were not reported, and information was not accurately updated in daily records.

"We found that the service did not have adequate management and leadership. Staff we spoke with raised concerns about the registered manager's ability to oversee the service."