England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended that North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust should come out of special measures, after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in December 2016.
During the inspection, the CQC found many improvements had been made across the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.
In recognition of this, the CQC made the recommendation to NHS Improvement for the Trust to exit special measures after nearly four years – a recommendation that has been approved.
Overall, the Trust has maintained a rating of ‘requires improvement’. However, this inspection saw the majority of services being rated as ‘good’.
As with previous inspections, every single service across both hospital sites was rated as ‘good’ for providing a ‘caring’ service to patients.
The CQC found patients to be positive about the care they received and staff who considered patients ‘to be central to everything they did’ and who were committed to delivering high quality care. They witnessed staff interactions with patients which were ‘compassionate, kind and thoughtful’ and they noted that patient privacy and dignity were ‘maintained at all times’.
In addition, for the first time, the Trust was rated as ‘good’ overall for providing ‘effective’ services. The CQC found that the Trust has developed ‘a number of evidence-based, condition-specific care pathways to standardise and improve patient care and service flow, such as ambulatory care and hot clinics’. Patients informed the inspection team that their pain was managed well and their nutritional and hydration needs were being met. It was also found that staff across disciplines were working to secure good outcomes and ‘seamless care’ for patients with staff working well together for the benefit of patients.
The CQC also commended the Trust for 11 areas of ‘outstanding practice’, including:
The only surgeon between Leeds and Glasgow doing meniscal augment knee surgery
One of only 18 hospitals referred to in an audit for contributing examples of best practice in care of patients undergoing emergency laparotomies
The ‘expert patient programme and shared care initiative’ in renal services
The Trust’s monitoring and collating of ‘real-time’ patient experience
An ‘innovative and progressive’ frailty unit at the Cumberland Infirmary Growth, expansion and development of the Medical Procedures Unit
Implementation of dance-related activities for vulnerable patient groups to stimulate social interaction, patient involvement, family partnerships and exercise
Stephen Eames, chief executive at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this CQC report and the news that we are now out of special measures. This is a momentous day for our staff who have been working relentlessly hard for four years to reach this achievement and I am immensely proud of our teams. I also hope this milestone assures our local communities across West, North & East Cumbria that their hospitals are providing quality services.”