Big improvement in county's health care

By Ted JeoryTHE quality of healthcare in Essex has shown some dramatic improvements, the NHS watchdog reveals today.The Healthcare Commission has awarded maximum three-star ratings to Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust - which runs Colchester General and Essex County Hospitals - Essex Ambulance Service, Uttlesford Primary Care Trust and the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust.

By Ted Jeory

THE quality of healthcare in Essex has shown some dramatic improvements, the NHS watchdog reveals today.

The Healthcare Commission has awarded maximum three-star ratings to Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust - which runs Colchester General and Essex County Hospitals - Essex Ambulance Service, Uttlesford Primary Care Trust and the North Essex Mental Health Partnership Trust.

It caps a remarkable transformation for Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, which was downgraded last year to just one star, and for Essex Ambulance Service, which two years ago was rated the country's worst ambulance trust.


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But there was disappointment for Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust - responsible for Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford - in the Healthcare Commission's annual table of star ratings, published today.

It was downgraded from three to two stars after failing to meet key financial targets. The trust was also considered below par in its stroke care services, emergency readmissions following hip surgery and thrombolysis.

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The star ratings are the outcome of strict assessments by the commission's inspectors, who measured the trusts on a number of key targets.

Terry Hanafin, chief executive of Essex Strategic Health Authority, said: “Our vision of becoming a world-class health service with excellent services for patients provided by excellent organisations is steadily being achieved.”

Anthony Marsh, chief executive of Essex Ambulance Service, said: “Last year we came so close to going from zero to three stars in one year and I made a promise to the people of Essex that we would make them proud this year - and we have.

“Despite the progress we are never complacent about the job at hand. As demand continues to grow we need to refocus our work to ensure we continue to meet the needs of the people of Essex.”

Richard Coleman, chief executive of three-star North Essex Mental Health Partnership, said: “I am very proud of each and every member of staff. They work tirelessly to provide local mental health services.

“The rating means among other things that we have new services to support people in a mental health crisis, good systems for planning care, robust financial management and achieve high standards of hospital cleanliness.”

Andrew Pike, chief executive of Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust said: “I am disappointed that we have dropped a star in this years ratings, especially as our total score was so close to achieving three.

“We remain a strong two-star organisation that is performing well or above average in the majority of areas.

“We know we are providing a good service to our patients, but there is still work to do, especially in some areas, before we can regain our three star status.

“Since the assessment we have made significant improvements to stroke care and are confident that the service is performing well.”

Melanie Walker, chief executive of Uttlesford Primary Care Trust, said: “I am delighted that the trust has been awarded three stars.

“It recognises the tremendous work of our staff and local doctors, nurses and others. I would like to congratulate and thank the whole team. To achieve this level of excellence requires team working and dedication from everyone involved.”

Paul Unsworth, chief executive of Tendring Primary Care Trust, said: “I am very pleased we have maintained the improvements made on the previous year, particularly when set against a background of having to work within very strict financial constraints and the underfunding we faced in the last few years.”

Brendan Osborne, chief executive of Colchester Primary Care Trust, which missed out on just one key target, said: “Each year the targets we're asked to achieve become progressively more challenging.

“So it is a tribute to our staff that we have managed to maintain our two-star rating for another year.”

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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