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Trust on Essex-London border to remain in special measures

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Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust should remain in special measures, despite making “real” improvements, the Care Quality Commission has recommended.

The CQC inspectors found that the trust had made “significant progress” since the last comprehensive inspection in October 2013, but gave the organisation an overal rating of “requires improvement”.

“The trust has shown that it made significant improvement. There is still much to do”

Mike Richards

The inspectors found that safety was “not a sufficient priority”.

They noted “particular concern” about a backlog of serious incidents and that subsequent investigations lacked enough detail to ensure failings were understood.

The inspection team also found that improvements were not made when things went wrong, according to the CQC’s latest report on the trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford, and King George Hospital in Ilford.

Patient outcomes were “varied” and some staff were not “competent” in carrying out their roles. The CQC added that urgent and emergency care, children’s and outpatient services were “not responsive to meet patients’ needs”.

In addition, the trust was not meeting the four hour accident and emergency target or the elective waiting times targets.

Since the trust was placed in special measures in December 2013 a new board has been put in place.

The team found they were making improvements and were “visible and engaging” with patients and staff.

However, while there was a “vision and strategy” at executive level, frontline staff were “less clear” and many told inspectors they were “fire-fighting”.

In addition, recruitment of nurses was “challenging”, with high sickness rates in some areas contributing to low staffing levels.

“We have set strong foundations to continue our journey to become outstanding”

Matthew Hopkins

But the inspection team did identify several examples of outstanding work, including the radiotherapy unit, genitourinary medicine clinic and good outcomes for stroke patients.

They also highlighted the development of an elders receiving unit that had improved frail, elderly patient care and the nurse-led oral chemotherapy service – the first in the country.

Patient flow through the hospital had improved since the team’s last visit and the introduction of the elderly receiving unit “met patients’ needs”, said the CQC.

Chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said the trust had made “significant improvement” but “there is still much to do”.

“Both Queen’s Hospital and King George Hospital are rated as ‘requires improvement’,” he said. 

But he added: “The new executive team has made significant improvement ensuring the overall culture of the trust was more open and transparent making it a much more positive place to work. On the whole patients we met appreciated the care and support provided by staff.”

Trust chief executive Matthew Hopkins said: “This report confirms what we already knew.

“We are making great strides in improving care for our patients, and we have set strong foundations to continue our journey to become outstanding,” he said.

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