Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust lifted out of special measures and rated ‘requires improvement’

Colchester General Hospital. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Colchester General Hospital. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Celebrations are underway as the trust running Colchester’s hospitals is lifted out of special measures for the first time in four years.

Colchester MP Will Quince welcomed the news. Picture: WILL QUINCE

Colchester MP Will Quince welcomed the news. Picture: WILL QUINCE - Credit: Archant

The organisation’s overall rating has been raised from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in July this year.

The town’s MP Will Quince said: “This is fantastic news for the people of Colchester and north east Essex and a turning point in the trust’s recent history.”

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (CHUFT), which comprises Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, has been rated ‘good’ in care, effectiveness and leadership, but has been told to make improvements in safety and responsiveness.

Chief executive Nick Hulme said: “This is a significant achievement and I would like to personally thank our staff for everything they’ve done to improve the care we provide.

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“We have had excellent support from our partners in the health and social care system locally as well as from the NHS in the region and I am very grateful for that.

“A strongly performing hospital is simply a better place to work as well as a better place to be treated.

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“When I arrived in 2016, I said this is about more than just the CQC and we needed to concentrate on doing the right thing for our patients. Today’s news shows that patient-focused services deliver better care.”

Chairman David White said: “We know we still have challenges ahead and improvements to make. However, I think we’ve shown that staff here at Colchester really can do it and we have a strong platform now for continued quality improvement.”

While the trust has been lauded for examples of outstanding practice, the CQC has told bosses they must do better in several areas including providing basic life support training for nursing and medical staff; making sure all equipment is fit for purpose; ensuring access to a designated mental health assessment room; and giving patients dignity when changing for X-rays.

CHUFT was originally placed into special measures in November 2013.

The CQC has regularly returned to the trust to make sure action was being taken to address concerns and further problems led to services being restricted at its emergency department, emergency assessment unit and operating theatres in April 2016.

Professor Ted Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “While there is still work to be done at the trust, reflected in its overall rating of ‘requires improvement’, there is no doubt that much positive change has taken place.”

NHS Improvement has confirmed it will lift the trust out of special measures following the CQC’s recommendation.

Dr Kathy McLean, executive medical director at NHSI, said: “This has been a long journey for the trust and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate staff for the significant improvements in care that the people served by the trust should now experience.

“There is of course much work still to do to ensure services are the very best they can be. We will continue to work closely with the trust to ensure the improvements highlighted in the CQC report are sustained and the recommendations for further improvement are taken forward.”

Essex County Hospital, which only provides outpatient and eye care services, is due to close next year.

Talks are in progress about Colchester General Hospital merging with Ipswich Hospital, with a final decision due to be made in June 2018.

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