Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation trust has become the third acute trust to be awarded an “outstanding” rating by the Care Quality Commission.
Factors contributing to the top rating included a strong focus on safety, care based on the needs of patients, and trust-wide learning from incidents and complaints.
“I congratulate the trust and all its staff on this outstanding rating”
Inspectors rated both the trust’s main sites, St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and Worthing Hospital, as “outstanding”.
The rating covered accident and emergency, medical care, end of life care, maternity and gynaecology and services for children.
Meanwhile, the trust’s smaller Southland Hospital in Shoreham-by-Sea was rated as “good” overall.
Inspectors, who spent four days at the trust in December 2015, found areas of outstanding practice across the organisation, including the degree of attention to people’s individual needs.
“Our staff provide exemplary standards of care, day in, day out”
The work of the learning disabilities nurse specialists, the neonatal outreach nurses and the specialist palliative care team were “particularly notable”, said the CQC in its report, published today.
Critical care staff remained focused on the “person and not the technology”, while staff encouraged fathers to stay overnight on the postnatal ward to provide support to their partner.
Trust-wide learning from incidents and complaints was “well embedded”, said the CQC, adding that in “all areas” staff could give examples of where improvements had been made due to complaints, comments or incidents.
The regulator also highlighted that the executive team had a good understanding of how the hospital was working in both the longer term and on a day-to-day basis – through a regular ward and department presence and open door sessions.
In addition, the CQC said it received an “unprecedented” number of letters and emails from people who used the service before during and after the inspection.
Patients told stories of staff “going above and beyond the expected level of care”, said the regulator, with inspectors finding staff were “exceptionally compassionate” when talking about patients and “showed kindness not only towards patients but towards each other”.
Sir Mike Richards
CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “I congratulate the trust and all its staff on this outstanding rating.
“Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation aspires to be one of the best patient-centred services in the NHS, with a trust-wide mantra of patients first,” he said. “We found that this ambition was understood and embedded in the practice of staff across all professions and at all levels.
“Staff and patients who we met during this inspection spoke positively about the patient journey and the striving for continual improvement,” said Professor Richards.
He added: “We found a clear focus on quality improvement, innovation and safety. Services are clearly designed to meet the needs of individuals, with services providing continuity of care from the hospital into the community.”
However, inspectors noted areas where improvements were needed including that the trust should review the levels of medical and nursing staff on each shift in critical care.
Sir Mike said: “Flow of patients through critical care and the waiting times for treatment in surgery and outpatients do require improvement.”
CQC rates third hospital trust as ‘outstanding’
Trust chief executive Marianne Griffiths said: “Our staff provide exemplary standards of care, day in, day out, and to be rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC is acknowledgement of the exceptional service they provide to the people of West Sussex.
“It’s also a fantastic endorsement of the thinking behind our ‘patient first’ improvement programme, which recognises that frontline staff have the best understanding of what needs to be done to make services better for patients and gives them the skills and support to make that change,” she said.
Trust chair Mike Viggers added: “I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of our 6,500 members of staff.”