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North Cumbria NHS Trust to move out of special measures

The Trust still 'Requires Improvement'. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

A Cumbrian NHS trust is ready to come out of special measures after nearly four years, according to inspectors.

The North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust runs the Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital.

The Care Quality Commission says enough progress has been made to move it out of special measures, but that improvements are still needed, including in departments like maternity and care for children.

The health board has been in special measures since July 2013 - longer than any other trust.

West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven. Credit: ITV Border
The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. Credit: ITV Border

In the CQC's inspection of the North Cumbria Trust, which took place last December, improvements were found to have been made to the environment for patients, and the cleanliness of the hospitals, as well as the Trust's senior management and approach.

However, despite leaving special measures, the Trust still has an overall rating of Requires Improvement.

There are ongoing concerns around recruitment of staff (including a reliance on locum cover and unfilled shifts), patient flow from A&E to other departments (including the four-hour target not being met), and cancelled elective surgeries (including at short notice).

The Trust's safety, when it comes to maternity care and services for children and young people, was also graded 'Requires Improvement' at both the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals praised the Trust, but said a lot of work still needs to be done.

In the past two years there have been significant changes to the senior management team; they have worked well together, with external support, to address the issues identified in both Sir Bruce Keogh’s Review and in our subsequent inspections. I am now pleased to be able to recommend they come out of special measures.

Although there has been progress, particularly in the effectiveness of the services being provided, there is still a lot of work to do.

The senior team are aware of the challenges and issues within the organisation and have developed strategies to meet these challenges, but these still need embedding.

I note that despite ongoing recruitment campaigns, staffing is still a concern in some areas of the trust including surgery, and services for children and young people.

– Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission

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