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Three hospital trusts must stay in special measures, CQC decides

Three struggling acute trusts placed in regulatory special measures a year ago have failed to make significant progress and should remain in special measures, the chief inspector of hospitals has recommended.

Concerns over safe staffing levels, poor leadership and patient flow are highlighted as issues at all three of the organisations in Care Quality Commission inspection reports published this week.

Medway Foundation Trust was given an “inadequate” rating overall with chief inspector Sir Mike Richards describing its leadership as the “most unstable” the regulator had come across since it overhauled its inspection regime last autumn.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust were both rated “requires improvement”.

A fourth trust placed into special measures following the Keogh review in summer last year, East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, was also rated “requires improvement” by the CQC this week, but is to be released from special measures.

Sir Mike said in a statement the trust has made “real progress” since the Keogh review “with the way that it is led changing significantly”.

He added: “Special measures are designed to provide intensive support to struggling trusts and East Lancashire Hospitals Trust has clearly gained from this support.

Sir Mike Richards

Sir Mike Richards

“There is no doubt that the trust is heading in the right direction and will continue to benefit from the ongoing support from the NHS Trust Development Authority as they come out of special measures. We will return in time to check that the improvements we have identified on this inspection have been made.”

Services at all four trusts were rated “good” under the CQC’s “caring” rating heading. However, inspectors flagged problems with estates, processes and governance which prevented the care they provided from being effective or safe.

East Lancashire is the third of the 11 Keogh trusts placed in special measures last year to come out of the regime. It follows Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which were released last month.

The CQC has completed follow up inspections at all 11, and reports into the remaining five are expected in the next week.

How the four trusts were rated

 SafeEffectiveCaringResponsiveWell ledStill in Special Measures?
East Lancashire Hospitals TrustRIGoodGoodRIRIN
Medway FTInadequateInadequateGoodRIInadequateY
North Cumbria University Hospitals TrustRIRIGoodRIRIY
United Lincolnshire Hospitals TrustRIRIGoodRIRIY

RI = “requires improvement”

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