CQC rates Hinchingbrooke as ‘good’ and takes it out of ‘special measures’ but A&E must improve

Hinchingbrooke Hospital,

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, - Credit: Archant

Hinchingbrooke Hospital is no longer in special measures and has been rated as ‘good’ following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection earlier this year.

In a report released this morning (August 11) the chief inspector of hospitals said recent inspections had found significant improvements, but the hospital’s A&E department was told it needed to look at its staffing levels, infection control measurers and waiting times.

The trust was placed in special measures in September 2014 after the CQC rated the hospital as ‘inadequate’ overall. Inspectors returned to check on progress early in 2015, but in April, Circle, the private company running the hospital, pulled out of its contract and it reverted back to NHS control. Further CQC visits were made in October last year and inspectors said more work was needed and the trust would remain in special measures.

This most recent inspection comes as the hospital is finalising its business case for merging with the Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust.

It found that new systems and processes were in place and all departments, except A&E were rated as ‘good’ in all categories, although the emergency department was rating ‘good’ in the caring category.

The report said there was an increased emphasis on learning from incidents at the trust and there were clear visions for its services and visible leadership.

There were, however, areas where improvement was identified, such as in the emergency department where patients were waiting longer than average to be seen, some equipment for carrying out patient tests hadn’t been checked as it should have been and the triaging of patients after arriving by ambulance wasn’t timely.

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Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Edward Baker, said: “Our return to Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust showed significant improvements had been made. This is reflected in the trust being rated as ‘good’ and our recommendation to NHS Improvement that the trust now comes out of special measures.

“Special measures are designed to provide intensive support to struggling trusts and Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust clearly gained from the special measures regime and the support it provided.

“This trust’s journey of improvement, from being rated ‘inadequate’ to now, serves as a positive example for other trusts and its staff and leadership should be proud of their achievement. We congratulate the staff and the leadership for the effort they have put in to address the problems we found on our previous inspections. This has made a real difference to the quality of care patients receive.

“There remain some areas for improvement and we have recommended that the trust continues to receive support to enable it to make these. The trust leadership knows what it must do now to ensure further positive change takes place. We will continue to monitor the trust and this will include further inspections.”

Inspectors also found examples of outstanding practice at the trust, which included the appointment of an Admiral Nurse to support people living with dementia and an initiative to work with the prison service.

The inspection highlighted where the trust it must improve, which included: sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced medical staff on duty in the emergency department to meet patient needs and the trust must ensure robust contingency plans, which forecast shortages and make sure there is appropriate cover, are in place. The time to treatment from a clinician in the emergency department must be reviewed and times to treatment improved.