Suffolk's star hospital performers

>HOSPITALS in Suffolk have proved to be star performers in the latest health league tables published by the Government today.Ipswich Hospital scored two out of three stars, doubling its rating last year, and West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, moved up one to a top-rated three.

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HOSPITALS in Suffolk have proved to be star performers in the latest health league tables published by the Government today.

Ipswich Hospital scored two out of three stars, doubling its rating last year, and West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, moved up one to a top-rated three.

The James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust, based at the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston retained its three star status.

Trust bosses said they were delighted with their 2002/03 ratings after both suffered disappointing one-star performances last year. But concerns were still highlighted by the Commission for Health Improvement about waiting lists and services.

Ipswich Hospital failed to meet the target of a specialist seeing 95% of suspected cancer patients within two weeks of being referred by a GP.

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It was also found to be "significantly below average" in dealing with inpatient waiting lists, with more than 25% of people waiting more than six months for an appointment.

Paul Forden, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital, said: "We achieved eight out of the nine key performance indicators during April 2002 to March 2003 and we are very pleased to have been awarded two stars," he said.

Chris Mole, the Labour MP for Ipswich, said: "I'm very pleased the hospital trust is able to make the progress that it has been discussing with me – it is part of its pass to becoming a three-star hospital."

John Parkes, chief executive of the West Suffolk HospitalsTrust, said gaining the three-star status was "the best possible news we could have had".

He added: "We first gained three-star status two years ago and last year we experienced a temporary blip when we lost two stars as a result of missing our financial target.

"This year, thanks to the sustained hard work and commitment of our excellent staff, we are back on track and everyone in the local community can be proud of this success."

The trust met eight of the nine key targets and was marked as having average or better performance in 29 of 32 categories it was judged against.

David Ruffley, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, said: "As a former patient of the West Suffolk Hospital and an MP who visits there regularly, I am delighted to see the restoration of its three-star status.

"I see nothing but hard work, dedication and caring staff at all levels and I know that the three stars will be a great morale booster, rewarding all the hard work."

James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust, chief executive David Hill said: "Retaining our three star status is a just reward for our very hard working and dedicated staff. It is a great morale booster and we are delighted to have made the grade again."

The success of the trust has been achieved against a background of rising activity at the hospital that has seen a large capital expansion programme of £7 million to provide improved facilities for patients. There are also "well advanced" plans for a further £11 million expansion of the hospital.

Despite the success Mr Hill said the trust will continue to strive to make further improvements including the total inpatient waiting times and the death rate within 30 days of selected surgical procedures that were both described as "significantly below average" by Government inspectors.

The East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust was one of 10 ambulance services in the UK to register three stars.

Dr Chris Carney, chief executive, said: "I'm very pleased that staff and management have once again received this public recognition of their work.

"We are still in the throes of a lengthy and complex modernisation programme so to be maintaining our high standards is both demanding and crucial.

Following the publication of the figures, the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority now has the highest number of three-star organisations in England.

Nearly 40% of its acute trusts, including Addenbrooke's, Papworth and Peterborough hospitals, now have three stars while all trusts improved or at least retained their ratings. More than a third of primary care trusts (PCTs) were awarded three stars.

Stewart Francis, authority chairman, said: "This is tremendous news for the people of the region and it just goes to show that all the hard work is paying off.

"The NHS has come a long way since April 2002 and it is good to see that achievement recognised by CHI."

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