West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust rated ‘outstanding’
A Suffolk NHS trust has been ranked one of the best of the country, despite experiencing its most challenging winter on record.
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), which runs hospital and community services, has received the highest overall rating of ‘outstanding’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The Bury St Edmunds based organisation was rated ‘good’ in March 2016, but the watchdog found improvements had been made during its latest visit in November and December 2017.
Chief executive Stephen Dunn said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received an outstanding rating.
“This is a testament to everyone’s hard work and unwavering commitment.
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“I am privileged to see the incredible care our staff provide 24/7, 365 days a year, and I’m delighted that their efforts have been recognised by the CQC.”
During their most recent visit, inspectors reviewed WSFT’s end-of-life care, outpatient services and leadership.
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The trust was rated ‘outstanding’ for being caring, effective and well-led, and ‘good’ for being safe and responsive.
Inspectors found the trust had sufficient staff; patients were respected; infection control practices were good and medicines were handled appropriately.
End-of-life care was singled out as particularly strong, rising from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘outstanding’.
However, there were some areas, exclusively within outpatient services, where the CQC told the trust it should improve. This includes checking equipment for electrical safety, and ensuring patients receive care in a timely manner.
Mr Dunn vowed to address problems raised and to work towards every area being ‘outstanding’.
The trust has seen its busiest winter to date, with record numbers of A&E attendances and admissions to West Suffolk Hospital.
Going forward, demand is expected to grow, and Mr Dunn said the trust knew it had to find ways of doing more with the same amount of money.
Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “We were extremely pleased with the care we found at WSFT. There were many notable examples of outstanding practice.
“The work with the newly appointed public health consultant has given the trust an excellent understanding of the needs of their local population.
“Staff engagement was exceptional and communication between senior leadership and its teams gave a clear understanding of the vision for the trust, which put the patient at the heart of all they did.
“While we identified a small number of areas, exclusively in outpatients, where the trust could make some improvements, overwhelming we found a trust that provides excellent care during our inspection.”
NHS Improvement’s executive regional managing director for the midlands and east, Dale Bywater, said WSFT staff should be “justifiably proud” of this achievement.
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “I am absolutely thrilled for all the incredible staff at our West Suffolk Hospital for securing an ‘outstanding’ CQC inspection, the highest clinical rating and one of the seven top rated general hospitals in the country.
“Over the last three years, I have seen the hospital develop, under the exceptional leadership of Dr Stephen Dunn and his senior team, into an excellent NHS service at the heart of our community and a centre for excellence.
“The tremendous amounts of hard work and the dedication of staff to quality patient care which I witness on regular visits to the hospital, are rightly reflected in the CQC’s conclusions.”