The Care Quality Commission has praised the “remarkable” improvement in care at Wexham Park Hospital as the “most impressive” turnaround it has seen since the start of its new inspection regime.
In May 2014 Wexham Park was rated “inadequate” by the CQC and placed in special measures. At the time, the hospital was operated by Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, but in October 2014 the trust was taken over by Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.
“This is undoubtedly the most impressive example of improvement”
The CQC re-inspected Wexham Park a year after the acquisition, and in a report published today its rating has been upgraded from inadequate to “good”.
In May 2014, three of the hospital’s eight core services were “inadequate” and three were rated “requires improvement”. The CQC now rates six of the services “good” and two are “outstanding”.
CQC chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards described the progress as “remarkable”.
He said: “This is undoubtedly the most impressive example of improvement since our new approach to inspection started in September 2013.
“Two years ago we found a hospital with unsafe staffing levels, patients waiting too long for attention and treatment, too many cancelled operations and a workforce which was all too busy firefighting, without a clear vision about the organisation’s direction,” he said.
Sir Mike Richards
He added: “At this inspection we found a positive and ambitious workforce, who are now prepared to recommend their trust as a place to work and to have treatment.”
In the financial year to date, Frimley Health has hit all its waiting time targets. Despite more people accessing Wexham Park’s accident and emergency service, since the takeover the hospital’s A&E performance has improved from 93% of patients seen within four hours to 95%.
While the CQC’s report praised the turnaround, it said there were still several areas where the hospital needed to make improvements, such as addressing nursing vacancies.
Although nurse staffing had improved there was still a number of staff vacancies, said the CQC, adding that the trust recognised that providing safe staffing was a risk for the hospital and there were appropriate plans in place to monitor and address this on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the CQC noted the trust had prioritised the management of deteriorating patients. A lead nurse for the management of deteriorating patients had been appointed and work was in hand to drive improvement across the trust.
“This is a great example of hard work by the staff at both trusts”
It also highlighted as an example of “outstanding” practice the seconding of a senior nurse in critical care into a research post for the year before returning to full time clinical duties.
One of the key projects – looking at the avoidance of acute kidney injury through the use of steroids – had resulted in specialised one-to-one training packages for staff and an invitation for staff to present their findings at the European Intensive Care Society Conference in 2015.
Frimley Health chief executive Andrew Morris said: “On the Wexham site there are some fantastic staff – the previous arrangements just didn’t pull out the best of them.”
Jim Mackey, chief executive of the regulator Monitor, said: “This is a great example of hard work by the staff at both trusts and an innovative approach to fixing deep-rooted problems within a very challenged trust.
“In just over a year, the leadership and staff have turned this hospital from one which gave great cause for concern to one which local people can really be proud of,” he added.