Brighton and Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust has been taken out of special measures after a “dramatic change” in the organisation’s performance.
The trust, which was previously rated inadequate overall, has now jumped up to “good” following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in September last year.
“We saw a significant number of plaudits from patients, relatives and loved ones”
It was placed in special measures for both finance and quality of care in 2016. However, inspectors found the organisation had made “huge improvements” thanks to better ways of working introduced by its new executive team led by chief executive and former nurse Marianne Griffiths.
They found quality was now at the heart of trust strategy, as well as noting improvements in support for staff and efforts to promote equality and diversity and develop Black and ethnic minority employees.
“The group we spoke with told us that they had seen a dramatic change in the past six to nine months,” said the inspectors in their report, published this week.
“Two years ago, we rated the trust as inadequate overall because of concerns relating to patient safety”
The group described this as “powerful” and “positive”, and said they felt included in a new strategy for BME employees, noted the report.
“Staff told us that although they had not always felt supported in the past since the new executive team had arrived they now felt confident that they could raise any concerns about staff behaviours towards them with their line managers, and they felt assured that their concerns would be listened to and acted on appropriately,” added the report.
The trust is now rated as “outstanding” for being caring and good for being safe, effective, and well led. It is rated as “requires improvement” for being responsive to people’s needs.
“We saw a significant number of plaudits from patients, relatives and loved ones describing how exceptional the care provided by trust staff had been both for the physical wellbeing of the patient and the emotional wellbeing of their loved ones,” said the report.
Meanwhile, a report on the trust’s use of resources shows it is now rated “requires improvement” in this area.
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Chief Inspector of hospitals, Professor Edward Baker, said he was pleased to see the trust had “made real progress”.
“Two years ago, we rated the trust as inadequate overall because of concerns relating to patient safety, the organisational culture and governance throughout the trust,” he said.
Since then, he said the organisation had met all the CQC’s requirements at the same time as developing and implementing a successful improvement plan.
Professor Baker said additional support from Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had helped Brighton and Sussex get back on track.
But he added that “much of the credit” must go to staff and the new leadership team at the trust.
“One of the big things that has contributed is that our staff were always very good”
In an interview on the trust website, Ms Griffiths said she was “absolutely thrilled” at the outcome of the CQC inspection.
“It’s a phenomenal achievement and it’s what our staff deserve in terms of being recognised as outstanding for the care that they give,” she said.
Ms Griffiths, who was named as a CBE in the 2019 new year’s honours list, said exiting special measures was a huge boost to staff.
“For staff themselves it means their care is recognised and that the morale and the confidence and pride they have got in the organisation is at its highest,” she said.
She said the move out of special measure was also a huge confidence boost and provided added reassurance for patients.
Ms Griffiths acknowledged it was unusual for an organisation to come so far in such as short time.
“There are a number of reasons and we have been very lucky,” she said. “One of the big things that has contributed is that our staff were always very good. I think the fact the new team has come into place has managed to showcase that.”
Key to improvements has been the trust’s “patient first” strategy, she added – something flagged up by inspectors in their report.
“It is essentially about working with staff to remove the rocks in their shoes so they that they can deliver the best care every day to their patients,” she said.
She said ensuring stability had been key to ensuring a “paradigm shift in culture across the whole trust” noted by inspectors.
“I think personally because the organisation had been through so many leadership changes, it had become a little bit organisationally depressed and I think what it needed was some stability and consistency for it to thrive again,” said Ms Griffiths.
“I think that is what the culture shift is – building on confidence, staff feeling listened to and I think that has made a dramatic impact,” she added.