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Big steps forward for East Kent Hospitals

“Big steps forward” at East Kent NHS Trust says Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the NHS quality inspectorate, has upgraded East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.  It is no longer rated “inadequate” but has now improved to the next grade up (“requires improvement”) and two of the Trust’s five hospitals have been rated as “Good”.  The CQC says, “We are very confident the Trust is going in the right direction.”

The upgrading follows a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection earlier this year.  The overall Trust rating of “requires improvement” is the same rating as the majority of NHS Trusts in England.

The CQC report, published today, says:

  • There have been “significant improvements” since the CQC’s last inspection 

  • That “staffing levels had improved” since the last inspection

  • That “the Trust has a well developed approach to the management of learning from complaints” and 

  • That care is rated as “good” across the whole Trust

The Trust was placed into special measures following a CQC inspection in 2014 that rated the Trust “inadequate” at that time.

Trust Chief Executive, Chris Bown, said:

“I am very pleased that we have made demonstrable progress since our last Care Quality Commission inspection but we must not rest on our laurels.  This is not the time for complacency.  Service improvement should be a continuous process.  The CQC report identifies a number of areas where we need to improve services and its clear our improvement programme will need to be fully implemented if we are to achieve “good” ratings for more of our services.  That must be our objective.  If we continue to improve services in East Kent I am confident we can emerge from special measures.”

In addition to the overall Trust rating the CQC report gives an individual rating to each of the Trust’s five hospitals.

  • The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford is now rated as “requires improvement” but critical care and outpatient and diagnostic imaging are rated as “good”

  • Buckland Hospital in Dover is now rated as “good” with all services at the hospital rated as “good” including the Minor Injuries Unit

  • The Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate is rated as “requires improvement” but again critical care and outpatient and diagnostic imaging are rated as “good”

  •  The Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone is now rated as “good” with all services at the hospital rated as “good”

  • The Kent and Canterbury Hospital in Canterbury is now rated as “requires improvement” but children’s services, critical care and outpatient and diagnostic imaging are rated as “good”
The fact that the Care Quality Commission notes ‘significant improvements’ since its last visit is a tribute to our hard working staff...

Nikki Cole, Trust Chair

The CQC report notes an improved culture at the Trust and says the Trust has taken “big steps forward”.  It references some outstanding practice including the Trust’s outpatient improvement programme which the CQC said had “significantly improved” services for outpatients and the Trust’s innovation and improvement hubs which are generating enthusiasm among staff and some very good ideas for improving services to patients.

The CQC report also notes some important areas for improvement.  It says the Trust must ensure that there are sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled, and experienced staff available to deliver safe patient care; there must be robust systems in place to monitor the safe management of medicines and suitable arrangements must be made for patients with mental health issues whilst awaiting assessment.

In addition, following helpful CQC comments, the Trust is giving particular attention to improving the exceptionally busy Emergency Department at the William Harvey Hospital and is working with its health and social care partners to improve the overall emergency pathway across all of its acute hospitals.

The Trust Board Chair, Nikki Cole, said:

“The fact that the Care Quality Commission notes ‘significant improvements’ since its last visit is a tribute to our hard working staff and I am particularly pleased the CQC has recognised the effort we have put in to improving the way we learn lessons from the various complaints, comments and compliments we receive.  Perhaps most important of all, however, is the fact that the Care Quality Commission says our staff demonstrated a clear culture of compassionate care with dignity which was supported by feedback from patients and carers. Compassionate care must always be our number one priority.”

The CQC gives each hospital in a Trust up to 39 individual ratings for different services including whether they are effective, caring and responsive.  The CQC gave East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust a total of 136 ratings of which 70 were “good” and just six were “inadequate”.

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