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Nurse leader namechecked in CQC report for changing trust's culture

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A senior nurse who stepped up to lead Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust has won praise for helping turn around the fortunes of the organisation.

The trust was rated “requires improvement” when inspected towards the end of 2014, but has now achieved an overall rating of “good”, after further visits by regulators in July this year.

“The trust has moved from a culture of blame to one of openness and transparency”

Mike Richards

Care Quality Commission inspectors found a number of improvements had been made – with a key role played by chief nurse Cathy Geddes, who was interim chief executive.

“The leadership of the interim chief executive has driven significant improvements at the trust and this was evident during our inspection,” said CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards.

“The trust has moved from a culture of blame, with staff not feeling supported or listened to, to one of openness and transparency,” he stated.

The regulator’s comments follow the announcement yesterday of measures to encourage more doctors and nurses into senior NHS leadership roles by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The CQC’s new report on the trust described how Ms Geddes provided “visible and dynamic leadership”, and enabled staff to develop initiatives to improve patient care.

When inspectors visited in 2014, they found “an underlying culture where staff were afraid to speak out”, said the regulator’s report, which was published today.

“At this inspection we found that staff no longer felt this way and were empowered to challenge, to drive improvements and enjoyed working at the trust,” it said. “Most staff attributed this to the leadership style of the interim chief executive.”

The trust has since appointed Clare Panniker as its permanent chief executive, who paid tribute to Ms Geddes.

“Moving the trust from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ required enormous commitment, focus and excellent leadership and I would like to thank Cathy Geddes and her team for providing the right environment in which all staff could make this happen,” said Ms Panniker.

“I would like to personally thank all of our staff for their dedication”

Cathy Geddes

Ms Geddes, who did not apply for the substantive chief executive role, said she was “delighted” by the trust’s new rating.

“The hard work of all staff across the trust over the last two years has resulted in this excellent achievement,” she said.

“I would like to personally thank all of our staff for their dedication to improve the service we provide to our patients,” said Ms Geddes.

She added: “There is still work to do in some areas – we know that – and work has already started to bring about the necessary improvements in these areas.”

The trust was also rated “good” for being effective, caring, responsive and well-led but inspectors found some improvements were needed when it came to safety.

They also highlighted that there were high numbers of nurse vacancies, although noting that there were recruitment plans in place.

Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust

Senior nurse credited for boost in trust’s CQC rating

Cathy Geddes

“While the trust had completed a successful overseas nursing recruitment programme, there still remained a high number of qualified nurse vacancies, which impacted on skill mix and the use of bank and agency,” said the CQC.

“However, maternity had successfully recruited to midwifery vacancies,” noted the report.

Examples of outstanding practice highlighted by the CQC included the trust’s burns and plastics service, and its “trigger and response” team, which supports acutely unwell patients and includes intensive care, emergency care and theatre nurses.

The report also highlighted the organisation’s innovative work to reduce the rate of caesarean sections and praised a dedicated “birth reflections” clinic for women did not have the experience they wanted, or were suffering stress or anxiety related to the birth experience.

The trust provides local elective and emergency services to 380,000 people living in and around the districts of Chelmsford, Maldon and Braintree. Its main sites are St Peter’s Hospital, Broomfield Hospital and Braintree Community Hospital.

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