The Care Quality Commission has recommended that East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust should exit “special measures”, following its latest inspection by the regulator.
The trust was placed in the support regime for struggling organisations after a CQC inspection in March 2014 identified concerns about the quality and safety of its services. It was placed in special measures that August.
“It is clear that the staff have worked hard”
In a report published today, CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said significant improvements had been made in the trust’s emergency and maternity departments.
While there “are still areas where further work is needed, I am pleased to recommend that the trust is removed from special measures from a quality perspective”, he said.
“It is clear that the staff have worked hard to ensure further improvements to the quality and safety of care,” he added.
The final decision to take the trust out of special measures will be made by NHS Improvement in early 2017.
Trust chief executive Matthew Kershaw said the findings were “the result of our thousands of dedicated and hardworking staff who have together driven improvements for patients in their wards, clinics, theatres, laboratories, workshops and offices over the last two years”.
“We will not take the foot off the gas”
He said: “We will not take the foot off the gas now that we are recommended as being out of special measures but instead continue the momentum of improvement at pace to deliver services that better meet the needs of patients both now and in the future.”
Mr Kershaw also said the trust faced ongoing challenges, including the recruitment and retention of staff, making further financial savings and improving patient flow.
The trust continues to struggle against key performance targets. Only 76.8% of A&E patients were seen within four hours between July and September 2016, compared with 91.3% in summer 2014.
Meanwhile, 6,069 patients waited more than 18 weeks for elective surgery between July and September this year, compared with 1,837 in the same quarter of 2014.
East Kent was placed in special measures in 2014 when the CQC rated the trust “inadequate”. A year later the trust was upgraded to “requires improvement” but it was kept in in special measures to allow more time to fully embed the improvements.
In its latest inspection, the CQC focused on four areas – emergency care, medical services, maternity and gynaecology, and end of life care. All four had significantly improved, ther report said.
The report also noted:
- Outstanding practice was found in the trust’s “improvement and innovation hubs”, which the CQC described as “an established forum to give staff the opportunity to learn about and contribute to the trust’s improvement journey”.
- The executive team and trust board were a “highly engaged team with a clear and common view on trust strategy, risk and operational priorities”, and staff were “appreciative of the increased visibility and accessibility” of the executive team.
- Significant investment had been made to fill the gaps in the staffing establishment with “key appointments made in emergency care, end of life care and maternity”.
- The culture within the trust had “improved significantly since 2014” and continues on “a trajectory of improvement with a continued reduction in bullying and harassment”.
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is a large provider of acute and specialist services that serves a population of over 750,000 across Dover, Canterbury, Thanet, Shepway and Ashford.
The trust operates three acute sites – William Harvey Hospital Ashford, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital Margate, and Kent and Canterbury Hospital. Local services including outpatients and diagnostics are also provided from Buckland Hospital Dover and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone.