England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended that troubled East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust should be taken out of special measures following a full inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
The trust has faced formal warnings against a hospital in county after inspectors uncovered a number of failings in its care. Officials from the watchdog group the Care Quality Commission carried out unannounced visits at Royal Blackburn Hospital after they were alerted to problems by a staff whistleblower.
SInce then Professor Sir Mike Richards and his inspectors found that sufficient progress had been made to justify the recommendation to the NHS Trust Development Authority - although the trust will receive ongoing support to ensure that its performance continues to improve.
East Lancashire Hospitals had been put into special measures in July 2013 following the Keogh Review into hospitals with higher than average mortality rates.
Reports which are published today show the trust has made significant improvements in a number of areas, although inspectors conclude that the trust’s two main hospitals, Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General Hospital, both require improvement.
The Chief Inspector, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “It is clear that East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has worked hard to improve since being placed in special measures last year.
"The trust has made real progress to meet the requirements of the Keogh Review, with the way that it is led changing significantly Staff told us the culture of the trust was changing and this was backed up by what we saw, an engaged workforce who were increasingly proud of where they worked.
“While there are signs that this trust is improving, a number of these improvements are new and need time to become fully ingrained in the service. The trust still needs to take action to make sure that people using its services receive good quality treatment and care all the time.
“Special measures are designed to provide intensive support to struggling trusts and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has clearly gained from this support. There is no doubt that the trust is heading in the right direction and will continue to benefit from the ongoing support from the Trust Development Authority as they come out of special measures. We will return in time to check that the improvements we have identified on this inspection have been made.”
Overall, inspectors found that in parts of the trust safety needed to improve. Patients were generally positive about their experience, and the inspection team found staff to be kind and caring. The trust had taken steps to address capacity and patient flow issues in Accident and Emergency.
The trust has been told that it must make improvements in 13 areas, including:
- The flow of patients must be improved - from attendance in A&E to admission to wards and discharge.
- Interim posts should be filled with permanent staff to ensure stable leadership at the trust.
- Risk registers should be used consistently, with risks escalated as appropriate.
- The management of complaints must improve.
- There must be enough suitably skilled staff employed in A&E at all times to care for very unwell children.
- People attending A&E and the urgent cares centres with mental health needs must receive prompt, effective, personalised support from appropriately trained staff.
- Equipment checks are done and documented in theatre.
- Ensure that all staff work in line with the medicines management policy.
The inspection team identified two particular areas of good practice:
- The vast majority of staff spoke of the improvement they had experienced in the culture in the organisation. Staff felt proud to work in the trust.
- The trust’s maternity services had received a national award for their innovative work to improve maternity services, promote normal births and facilitate staff activities.