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Essex hospital trust improved enough to leave ‘special measures’

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Healthcare regulators have decided that Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has improved sufficiently that it can now exit the “special measures” regime for struggling providers.

The Care Quality Commission made the recommendation following its latest inspection of the trust, which was then confirmed by a decision from NHS Improvement. Both organisations congratulated nurses and other staff on their efforts.

“We found considerable improvements had taken place”

Ted Baker

The trust was originally placed into special measures in November 2013, following concerns about patient care in cancer services. Subsequent inspections highlighted further concerns and the trust failed to demonstrate the required level of progress with improvements, said the CQC

Ongoing concerns resulted in the CQC undertaking urgent action to restrict services at the trust’s emergency department, emergency assessment unit and operating theatres in April 2016.

Shortly afterwards, a long-term partnership between Colchester General Hospital and Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust was recommended to secure services for patients.

However, during the latest visit, which took place between 25 and 27 July and on 2 August 2017, CQC inspectors noted significant improvements had been made across all of the trust’s services.

According to the CQC’s website, the organisation is now rated as “requires improvement” overall, as well as for whether services are safe and responsive. It is rated as “good” for whether services are effective, caring and well-led.

“I would like to personally thank our staff for everything they’ve done”

Nick Hulme

In its report, published today, the CQC praised the trust for its dedicated children’s transition team – the only one in the region – and its piloting of a “discharge passport” to boost parent involvement in ensuring timely discharge for babies in the neonatal unit.

But the CQC told the trust it must make improvements in a number of areas. These included that nursing staff must complete all safeguarding and mandatory training, including basic life support.

Meanwhile, it said initial assessments within the emergency department must be undertaken and documented to maintain an accurate clinical record.

In addition, it was told to take action to ensure that patients were clinically risk assessed as safe to wait for outpatient appointments.

Other areas where improvement was needed included ensuring “do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” decisions were undertaken “in line with national guidance and best practice”.

In addition, patient’s dignity must be protected in changing cubicles in In Beta X-ray and the doors must be fully fitted to ensure patients are not a risk of unnecessary exposure of ionising radiation.

Ted Baker

edward ted baker

Ted Baker

Professor Ted Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “I am very pleased to be able to recommend that Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation trust exits special measures.

“When we returned to conduct our inspection we found considerable improvements had taken place,” said Professor Baker.

“We found a strong leadership team, which engaged positively with a staff that was committed to ensuring change took place and we witnessed significant improvements across all of the trust’s services,” he said.

He added: “While there is still work to be done at the trust, reflected in its overall rating of ‘requires improvement’, there is no doubt that much positive change has taken place.”

“This is testament to the hard work and commitment of staff and the trust’s leadership, and they are to be congratulated for what they have achieved,” he said.

Dr Kathy McLean, executive medical director at NHS Improvement, also congratulated staff at the trust for the “significant improvements in care” that patients “should now experience”.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

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She said: “Every single member of staff who has shown real commitment to the quality of care should be rightly proud of their achievements. This has been a long journey for the trust.

“There is of course much work still to do to ensure that patient services are the very best they can be,” added Dr McLean.

Trust chief executive Nick Hulme said: “This is a significant achievement and I would like to personally thank our staff for everything they’ve done to improve the care we provide.

“When I arrived in 2016, I said this is about more than just the CQC and we needed to concentrate on doing the right thing for our patients,” he said. “Today’s news shows that patient-focused services deliver better care.”


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