Staff commended as trust makes good progress. Emma Harwood writes.

Troubled East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust – which manages both the Conquest and Eastbourne District General hospitals – no longer needs to be in quality special measures, healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has concluded.

(inset) Dr. Adrian Bull

The CQC published its report on Wednesday (6th June) and rated the trust as good or outstanding in almost all of the services they inspected in March of this year, except for the emergency department at Eastbourne which was rated overall as ‘requires improvement’.  Four core services, emergency, medical care, surgery and maternity and gynaecology, were assessed at both hospitals, while outpatients and diagnostics were also assessed at EDGH to ascertain whether they were safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

Inspectors rated trust management overall as ‘well-led’, while identifying areas of outstanding practice across the services they examined. And while they have acknowledged that on the basis of their findings in March, the trust’s overall rating would be ‘good’, it is still rated as ‘requiring improvement’ because not all services were inspected.

ESHT was placed in special measures for quality in 2015, following a CQC inspection which rated both hospitals overall as inadequate, with many core services, including maternity, surgery and outpatients, being rated as ‘inadequate’ for safety. The findings forced the then Chief Executive Darren Grayson to resign. Grayson was replaced by current chief executive Adrian Bull, and a brand new senior management team.

The trust, which has a deficit of around £40 million, remains in special financial measures, with NHS Improvement monitoring its accounts.  However the report said that, “despite the financial difficulties the trust board and staff remained unanimously committed to maintaining the quality and safety of patient care.”

Inspectors noted that staff treated patients with dignity, compassion and respect and involved patients and their carers in decisions about their care and treatment.

The report also stated that, “staff were now identifying their achievements and celebrating successes where before the overall feeling was of a very negative and demotivated workforce.”

Dr Bull said “I am delighted that the hard work and commitment of people across the organisation has been recognised by the CQC, with the services they inspected being rated as good or outstanding.

“Once our other services are inspected we fully expect to be ‘good’ overall and we have encouraged the CQC to come back and inspect those areas as soon as they can. 

“Our aim is to be an outstanding organisation by 2020, which provides excellent healthcare for the people of East Sussex and that people are happy and proud to work.

“This report is clear evidence we are making good progress.

“We must continue to provide consistently high standards of care across all of our services and seek out every opportunity to make improvements to achieve our ambition of becoming outstanding.

“We remain in special measures for finance and we are committed to tackling our financial challenges. We are focused on maintaining and improving the quality and safety of the services provided.

“We will not take financial decisions without undertaking a quality impact assessment.”

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