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Herefordshire hospital trust leaves 'special measures'

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A small acute trust in Herefordshire with long-standing financial and performance problems is to come out of the ”special measures” regime, following significant improvements in care.

NHS Improvement has today confirmed that Wye Valley NHS Trust will exit the special measures support scheme for struggling healthcare providers after a recommendation from the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of hospitals.

“Morale had significantly improved and there was a sense of pride among staff”

Mike Richards

The trust, which runs Hereford County Hospital and employs around 3,000 staff, is now rated by the CQC as “requires improvement” overall. It had previously been rated “inadequate” since October 2014.

Meanwhile, in the caring domain Wye Valley was rated “good” by the CQC, but it is still rated “inadequate” for responsiveness. Critical and end of life care were also rated “good”, according to the regulator’s new report on the trust.

Wye Valley was placed in special measures in October 2014 after receiving the “inadequate” rating. It was reinspected in September 2015 and found to be “inadequate” again. However, an inspection last July found improvements had been made.

In its latest inspection, the regulator found that the development by trust leaders of a strategic vision was seen to be making a difference.

“Today’s news shows just how far the trust has come and recognises the hard work of staff at all levels”

Richard Beeken

Inspectors found examples of outstanding practice, including days out for children and young people who were long term patients, an improved pathway involving more home care and remote monitoring for patients needing ventilators, and an epilepsy clinic developed with input from a patient.

However, the trust has been told it must make improvements on access to services including surgery, gynaecology and outpatient appointments, “with the aim of meeting trust and national targets”.

The CQC also told the trust to ensure staff had their mandatory training, to continue to take action on waiting times, and assess and monitor the risk to patients on the waiting list.

In addition, the trust was told it should ensure effective oversight of incident reporting and management, particularly in children and young people’s services.

Last week Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal revealed that the trust was entering into a “hospital chain” led by South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust.

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “There clearly remain areas where further work is needed, in particular with regard to the trust’s responsiveness in accident and emergency, bed occupancy concerns and referral to treatment times, but we found considerable and positive change had taken place.

However, he added: “Morale had significantly improved and there was a sense of pride among staff towards working in the hospital who felt respected and valued.

Sir Mike Richards

Sir Mike Richards

Mike Richards

“The trust’s staff and leadership should be proud of their achievement so far and they know what to do now to ensure those changes takes place. We will continue to monitor the trust and this will include further inspections,” said Sir Mike.

NHS Improvement delivery and improvement director Jeffrey Worrall said: “Today’s news shows just how far the trust has come and recognises the hard work of staff at all levels of the organisation.

“We have to make sure that the trust can build on the excellent progress that’s been made in improving services and ensure the trust is sustainable in the longer term. Strengthening the partnership between Wye Valley and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust is an important step forward,” he said.

Trust chief executive Richard Beeken said: “The report confirms that substantial improvements have been made in many areas – and once again our quality of care has been rated as good throughout the trust.

“However, these improvements are only part of the answer to the sustainable delivery of high quality, safe services in the county,” he added.

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