Hospital's pledge to get status back

ESSEX Rivers NHS Trust has pledged to improve its performance after it lost its three star status.The trust, which manages Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital in the town, was awarded two stars by the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI), the independent inspection body for the NHS.

ESSEX Rivers NHS Trust has pledged to improve its performance after it lost its three star status.

The trust, which manages Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital in the town, was awarded two stars by the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI), the independent inspection body for the NHS.

The trust needs three stars to be eligible to apply for Government foundation hospital status.

Foundation hospitals have the opportunity to be free from Whitehall control and the aim is to allow the best hospitals to innovate and improve services, and free up time and money for the government to improve the worst NHS services.

The results revealed the trust's level of deaths within 30 days of an operation was "significantly below average".

Its record on patient privacy received poor scores, which were blamed on the mixed sex wards at the trust. The trust also received the lowest possible levels for its level of cancelled operations.

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However, it achieved all nine key targets including performance on accident and emergency admission waiting time, cancelled operations not admitted within 28 days, financial management, hospital cleanliness, total time in accident and emergency and cancer waiting times.

It also scored the maximum rating for breast cancer treatment, delayed transfers of care and paediatric appointments in the patient focus categories.

Chief executive Mike Pollard said: "Losing a star is a big disappointment.

"We will be studying the details behind the results and working with our primary care trust partners to bring about improvement in the fastest possible time.

"Instead of being one of the first we shall now look to be in the second wave in October 2004, six months later than previously planned."

Mr Pollard pointed out the trust had scored poorly in areas related to capacity issues and admitted it had done "badly with regard to privacy and dignity".

He added: "Mixed sex wards have been an issue for a long time. With Colchester General Hospital running at 98% average bed occupancy we have little room for manoeuvre. It is one reason why we need our plans for major expansion on the site to go ahead."

A statement from the trust acknowledged the poor score for the number of deaths occurring among patients within 30 days of having had surgery.

It said: "The Strategic Health Authority has commissioned research to discover whether this is as a result of incorrect data or whether there is a genuine problem that needs to be tackled."

The trust also runs outpatient clinics in Clacton, Halstead and Harwich.

Terry Hanafin, the chief executive of Essex Strategic Health Authority, welcomed the publication of the results for all the health trusts in the county.

He said: "We want only the very best services delivered to the people of Essex and we will be talking to all our health organisations in the light of this performance review to see how we can ensure this time next year we are looking at even better performances."

Mid Essex NHS Trust, which manages Broomfield Hospital, achieved nine out of nine of its key targets including accident and emergency admission waits, cancelled operations not admitted within 28 days, and hospital cleanliness. But Its rating on the category of patient privacy and dignity was rated as significantly below average.

Andrew Pike, chief executive of the trust said: "I am pleased that the trust has managed to achieve all nine of our key targets. I am also pleased that the trust has done well on all the clinical indicators, meaning that our patients are receiving very good direct care."

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