'SIGNIFICANT improvements' have been made by the trust which provides mental health and community services across Dorset.

A Care Quality Commission report following the latest inspection said Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust is now rated as 'good' overall.

However, concerns continue over the prevalence of ligature risks on acute mental health wards.

It comes after the death of 36-year-old Thippawan Donnelly, a patient at St Ann's psychiatric hospital.

An inquest last month heard the mother of three was discovered unresponsive in a locked hospital ward toilet with a plastic laundry bag tied over her head in July 2016. She died three days later.

The Trust carried out an independent review following the tragedy, and implemented an action plan.

But Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said in his CQC report: “Some concerns remain, including ligature points on some of the acute mental health wards which had not been identified or dealt with effectively and some medicines were not always being managed in a safe way at a small number of services inspected.

"However, we found a readiness to discuss safety, and continual learning was encouraged, with staff being supported to report incidents, including near misses.

“The trust knows what it must now do to ensure further improvements are made and we expect the executive team, with the support of their staff, to work on these on behalf of all of their patients. We will return in due course to check on the progress that they have made.”

A team of inspectors from the CQC visited in November and December to check the quality of eight mental health core services and three community health care services.

They also looked specifically at management and leadership, rating the trust as 'good' for being effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

However, it still requires improvement for being safe.

Inspectors found that in child and adolescent mental health wards, areas of concern raised at previous inspections had been addressed.

Throughout wards for end of life care previous issues CQC identified had been addressed and overall, the service was now rated good.

In addition, inspectors found that the trust’s board and senior leadership team had a clear vision and set of values.

Professor Baker added: “Since we inspected services at Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust in June 2015 the organisation has worked to ensure that improvements have been embedded.

"I am pleased that the trust has taken to heart the findings from our previous inspection reports and built on them to provide improved services to the people of Dorset, particularly in Child and adolescent mental health wards which we have rated as outstanding."

The Trust's acting chief executive, Eugine Yafele, said: “We welcome the report by the CQC and are delighted that our overall rating has improved to good, and we are particularly pleased that some services have also been rated as outstanding. This is great news for patients, carers, staff and our partners and demonstrates our commitment to delivering high quality care.

“We are extremely proud of what our staff have achieved and know that they will continue to support the Trust on its improvement journey. We are ambitious and our aim is to be an outstanding trust – the CQC’s assessment helps us to focus on our next steps.”