The Care Quality Commission has upgraded the rating of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from “requires improvement” to “good” following an inspection by the regulator in June this year.
The CQC team looked at the specific areas where the trust was rated as requiring improvement when the regulator published its comprehensive inspection report on the provider in June 2015.
“We came across numerous examples where patient outcomes have improved”
The areas included as part of the focussed follow-up inspection this year were based at the trust’s James Cook University Hospital, the Friarage Hospital and Redcar Primary Care Hospital.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, noted that during the prior inspection the trust was going through a “significant period of change to re-structure services”.
“It is clear that this process and the changes that have been implemented as a result, are reflected in the improved quality of care we found at this inspection,” said Sir Mike.
“We came across numerous examples where patient outcomes have improved since our last inspection, which is great news for people using these services,” he said.
Sir Mike Richards
Sir Mike said such improvements included outcomes for those with sepsis or non-traumatic chest injuries, children with fever, and also patients in an unscheduled return to accident and emergency.
“We also found significant progress had been made in the areas of finance and governance which was a very encouraging sign,” he added.
In its latest report, the CQC also highlighted that its inspectors had identified a number of areas of “outstanding” practice being provided by the trust.
These included that the lead nurse for end of life care was leading on a regional piece of work in South Tees, looking at the education of healthcare professionals around the Deciding Right tools – a North East initiative for making care decisions for those at end of life, in advance.
It also praised the trust’s development of a detailed programme around the patient flow in and out of the hospital, aimed at reducing unnecessary admissions and helping to support patients being seen closer to home in a more appropriate facility.
However, while there was much improvement, the CQC identified areas where the trust must still make improvements.
“Our upgraded rating to ‘good’ is down to the hard work and commitment of our staff”
For example, the trust must ensure processes are in place and understood by its Friarage site staff on equipment moving and handling, and transferring deceased patients – particularly out of hours.
Meanwhile, the regulator said the trust’s end of life strategy must be approved and implemented, moving to develop a seven-day palliative care service.
Additionally, the trust must continue to develop plans to ensure appropriate staffing levels on wards, particularly in the neonatal unit, said the CQC.
Trust chief executive Siobhan McArdle said: “This is a big step forward for the trust and a clear demonstration that we are delivering real change for patients.
“Our upgraded rating to ‘good’ is down to the hard work and commitment of our staff, who have worked tirelessly to improve patient outcomes,” she said.
“We are incredibly proud of our organisation and the significant progress we have made over the past couple of years and we remain focused on continuing to provide outstanding care to the patients we serve,” she added.
The trust runs the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, as well as a range of community healthcare services across Hambleton and Richmondshire, and Redcar and Cleveland.