England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has published his first report on the quality of care provided by the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust.
The trust was inspected under radical changes introduced by the Care Quality Commission, which provides a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than ever before.
As well as good care, during its inspection CQC uncovered several concerns and areas for improvement at the trust’s Northampton General Hospital in relation to how its services are assessed and monitored. These have prompted the regulator to issue a warning notice to the trust.
- Northampton General Hospital, Cliftonville: Requires improvement
- Isebrook Hospital, Wellingborough: Requires improvement
- Danetre Hospital, Daventry: Requires improvement
- Corby Community Hospital, Corby: Requires improvement
Overall, the report concludes that despite Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust having some areas of good practice, improvements are needed across several departments.
The inspection team found areas of good practice, which included:
- Staff were caring and compassionate in each of the service areas visited. Patients and their relatives spoke very highly of the caring nature of staff.
- The trust was very clean throughout and performed well in relation to infection prevention and control.
- The critical care unit was effective, caring and well led.
- The maternity unit offered the choice of home births and had an adequate numbers of midwives on hand at all times.
CQC has told the Northampton General Hospitals NHS Trust that it must take action to improve in the following areas:
- Review and act on how children are treated in the A&E department, as dedicated staff and facilities were limited.
- Ensure medical equipment is adequately tested and maintained.
- Strengthen governance to ensure it functions consistently at all levels.
- Improve the service provided to patients who access the hospital as an emergency.
- Address the significant issue with bed availability at the trust due to delays in appropriate discharge.
- Improve compliance with both mandatory training and staff appraisals.
- Review how medication is dispensed to patients after they have been discharged from hospital.
– The Chief Inspector of Hospitals for CQC, Professor Sir Mike Richards.
"Whenever we inspect we will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led?
"While some services were delivered effectively at the trust, the issues at the A&E department, poor management, staff training, and equipment maintenance must be improved."
CQC spent three days at the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, including Northampton General Hospital, Danetre Hospital, Corby Community Hospital and Isebrook Hospital in January.
The inspection team included doctors, nurses, hospital managers, trained members of the public, CQC inspectors and analysts.
They examined the care provided in accident and emergency, medical care (including older people’s care), surgery, intensive/critical care, maternity, children’s care, end of life care and outpatients.
CQC will return to the trust at a later date to follow up the findings of this inspection and to report on the trust’s progress in making the required improvements.