Two Essex Hospitals 'Need To Improve' Following Review

Essex County Hospital and Colchester General Hospital have been rated as ‘Requiring Improvement’ under the new inspection regime, introduced by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors found that both of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust's hospitals needed to make changes and both were rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ and overall the trust is rated as ‘Requires Improvement’.
The trust was judged as ‘Inadequate’ with regard to whether services were well-led. It was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ for whether services were safe or responsive and ‘Good’ with regard to whether services were effective and caring.
An inspection team, including doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital managers, trained members of the public, a variety of specialists, CQC inspectors and analysts spent four days at the hospitals in May.
Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust was selected for inspection, under CQC’s new inspection approach, because it was a high risk trust. It was inspected last year as part of Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of trusts with high mortality rates and was placed in to special measures in October 2013. The trust remains in special measures.
It has since undergone a review regarding its cancer service waiting times, following a CQC inspection last August. A police investigation related to the cancer waiting times is ongoing.
CQC’s most recent inspection, which took place between 6 and 8 and 16 and 19 May, recognised that leadership of the trust had undergone significant change, resulting in a lack of stability and clear direction at board-level. The inspection also found that nurse staffing levels, particularly in medical elderly wards, were lower than guidance recommended.
There are a number of areas where the Care Quality Commission has identified the trust must improve:

  • There were multiple areas requiring improvement to ensure the trust is safe, effective and responsive.
  • The trust needed to recruit a substantive board of directors and to develop a clear strategy for leadership development at all levels.
  • An independent review of the management of elective waiting lists in all areas is needed.
  • Systems and processes for the storage and management of all medicines, including controlled drugs, is required.

Inspectors found some good practice at the trust, including:

  • Patients and relatives spoke highly of services.
  • Caring and compassion was evident in all clinical areas.
  • There were good standards of cleanliness and good systems and processes for infection prevention and control.
  • The trust benefited from a committed and loyal workforce.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: "There have been concerns about the number of changes Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has undergone in its leadership over the past year and it is vital this is addressed, through substantive appointments being made, to bring about stability.
"There were a significant number of other areas where the trust also needed to make improvements. CQC would normally take enforcement action in these instances, however, as the trust is already in special measures, we have informed Monitor of the breaches, and they will make sure these are appropriately addressed and progress is monitored through the special measures action plan.
"Inspectors found some examples of good care, and the trust was found to be effective and staff were caring, but changes are clearly required and the trust faces a number of challenges to ensure it meets the required standards. The trust is aware of what action it now needs to take."

A report - also published today about reviews of five cancer pathways at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has been welcomed by its chief executive.

The NHS England publication found that all five pathways, which were not safe on 13 December last year, are now safe.

The Progress Review of Five Cancer Services at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has been published seven months after an initial report.

The December 2013 report found that six of the 17 cancer pathways reviewed were at that time not safe - brain and central nervous system, cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP), radiology, sarcoma, skin, and urology.

External clinical experts have now revisited the six cancer pathways with the exception of skin and concluded they are safe with no immediate or serious concerns.

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