THE owners of a Darlington care home have been fined thousands of pounds after failing to meet regulations on the safe handling of medication.

St Martin’s Care Ltd was fined £4,000 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after inspectors found that concerns raised about unsafe use of medication at Willow Green Residential Care Home, in Eastbourne Road, Darlington, had not been addressed properly for three months.

The care home, which provides nursing care for up to 63 people, was warned it faced legal action unless it made urgent improvements in February after two unannounced inspections by the CQC found that the home was failing to ensure that people were protected against the risks associated with the unsafe use and management of medicines.

Further unannounced inspections in May found that although the home had made some improvements, people were still at risk with no appropriate arrangements in place to manage medicines.

The CQC issued a fixed penalty notice against St Martin’s Care on the grounds that people still did not have all their medicines at the times they needed them; medication was sometimes out of stock; records were inaccurate or incomplete; and staff had failed to follow the directions of the prescriber or the manufacturer.

St Martin’s Care accepted the fixed penalty notice and has paid the fine.

A further CQC inspection was carried out on November and found that the care home had improved all of its processes and now has a new recording system for medication and daily check lists.

Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC’s director in the North, said: “Our decision to fine this provider sends a clear and public message that persistent failure to meet national standards will not be tolerated.

“Although the provider has now taken action to achieve compliance, we will keep Willow Green under review to ensure that the improvements we have found in our most recent inspection are sustained. We will not hesitate to take further action if necessary to ensure residents receive the service they are entitled to expect.”

In a statement, St Martin’s Care Ltd said: “We are working with the Care Quality Commission and the care home is fully compliant.”