The Conquest Hospital has been rated “outstanding” by the national health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Following detailed inspections made last November and December the CQC has issued a report praising the hospital’s overall standard of caring as “outstanding”, particularly as regards end-of-life care; other services including treatment of children and young people and outpatients generally were rated as “good”.

Evaluating the end-of-life care the inspectorate found that: 

• “The service had enough staff to care for patients and keep them safe… They provided good care and treatment, gave patients enough to eat and drink, and gave them pain relief when they needed it. Managers monitored the effectiveness of the service and made sure staff were competent. Staff worked well together for the benefit of patients, supported them to make decisions about their care, and had access to good information. Key services were available five days a week with reliable out of hours and weekend cover.

• “Patients and relatives said staff went above and beyond, and the care received exceeded their expectations. Staff truly respected and valued patients as individuals. They treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity, took account of their individual needs, and helped them understand their conditions. They provided emotional support to patients, families and carers.”

There were similarly positive findings for other services.

A welcome turn-round

These ratings are a welcome turn-round from less than five years ago when East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which manages the hospital, was placed in “special measures”. Inspections in March 2015 had raised serious concerns of bullying and lack of staff engagement – “a worrying disconnect between the trust’s most senior managers and frontline staff”. The Conquest was then rated as “inadequate” with “improvements required” for Accident & Emergency, children’s services and end-of-life care. Surgery and maternity had both been rated as “inadequate”. Staff were found to be “working long hours without breaks and with little support”.

After some substantial changes in senior management at the Trust, a further inspection by the CQC in October 2016 had identified positive changes in culture and morale, and in June 2018 the rating of the A & E department, which had previously evinced poor staffing levels, poor record keeping and “deteriorating performance against access standards” (code for excessive waiting times), was raised to “good”; similarly in the case of surgery, maternity and general medical care services.

Responding to the most recent report, Chief Executive of the Trust Dr Adrian Bull said: “These are excellent results and I would like to congratulate everyone across the organisation for achieving these high standards. They reflect the good work that is going on in every part of the organisation.”

Dr Bull announced last month that he will retire in September after serving in the post for four years. Steve Phoenix, Chairman of the Trust Board said: “Adrian has been a superb CEO and I want to pay tribute to all he has achieved. Under his leadership, [the Trust] has made significant progress across key areas and developed a strengthened reputation. Improvements have been made to the quality and safety of care we provide, the accessibility of our services and the feedback that we receive from patients and members of staff. This has been done whilst steadily decreasing our financial deficit. Adrian has also overseen some significant investment and development at the Trust. In the last year alone we have seen the opening of a multi-million pound MRI unit, a new Urology Investigation Suite and new Ambulatory Care units.”

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