Significant improvements in the quality of care provided by Barts Health NHS Trust are officially recognised today by the Care Quality Commission.
Two years after the country’s biggest hospital group was put into special measures, the care regulator has now formally withdrawn its “inadequate” rating and says the Trust as a whole now “requires improvement”.
The rating change follows a series of recent hospital inspections which has seen three hospitals improve their overall rating, and another hospital rated as “good”.
A report summarising the Trust’s improvement journey so far has also confirmed that, following a recent well-led review, its leadership and governance has now improved to be rated “requires improvement”.
Although many changes brought in after the 2015 “inadequate” rating are in their infancy and not yet fully embedded, the CQC noted:
- Staff demonstrated empathy and compassion, with patients speaking highly of their care
- The senior leadership team were visible and approachable across five sites
- Time and resource had been invested in improving the governance structures, management of risk, and culture of the organisation
- Staff engagement is better
Prof Ted Baker, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “It is apparent that the Trust is on a journey of improvement and significant progress has been made. There is still much to do but the trust is improving and this reflects the hard work by the leadership and the staff addressing the problems we have found.”
The report cites several areas of outstanding practice, including:
- Outpatients administration and abdominal surgery at Whipps Cross hospital
- Consistently outperforming national standards on cancer care
- Care for people living with dementia and their relatives across the Trust
- Cardiac services and lung cancer care at St Bartholomew’s hospital
- Developing and supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic staff
The Trust is already addressing the areas of improvement required in these individual reports, including an intensive programme to raise the standard of surgery at Whipps Cross. This is the only service still rated “inadequate” across the Trust’s five hospitals.
Many of the issues regarding Whipps Cross that are highlighted in the latest report have already been addressed following the re-inspection earlier this year. The Trust is now developing a plan to get to a “good” rating.
Alwen Williams, Chief Executive at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “It is extremely heartening to hear that we are doing the right things, and to have the tremendous efforts and achievements of our talented staff recognised by the care regulator in this way. We still have a lot to do, to ensure governance is managed consistently, and service improvements are achieved across all sites. But there is now no doubt that we are getting better, and capable of making further progress on behalf of our patients.”
Professor Oliver Shanley, Regional Chief Nurse for London added: “I am really encouraged to see the improvements the trust has made for its patients. Its staff and leadership can be proud that all their efforts are making a difference. There is still work to do to exit special measures and we will continue to support the trust to achieve this.”