Britain’s busiest hospital group is celebrating lifting itself out of special measures for quality after healthcare regulators rated the majority of its services as good.
The Care Quality Commission praised staff and services at Barts Health NHS Trust for being caring, effective and well-led following a major inspection of three hospitals last autumn.
Four years after putting the trust into special measures for quality, the regulator recommended lifting the sanction, and this was accepted by NHS Improvement, the oversight body for health providers.
Barts Health is still in special measures for finance reasons and remains rated “requires improvement” for quality, with further CQC reports expected next month on inspections into three specific services, including maternity services at Newham which were rated inadequate and where we have already taken remedial action.
Nevertheless in today’s report the CQC noted improvements across the board at The Royal London, Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals, together with improvements in the leadership, governance and culture of the Trust as a whole.
Alwen Williams, Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Today is a significant step forward on our improvement journey and a tribute to the skill and dedication of our 17,000 hard-working and talented staff."
Highlights of the report include:
- More than 35 examples of outstanding practice, including the specialist dental and children’s hospitals at The Royal London, Newham Hospital's Rainbow Centre and the Forest Assessment Unit at Whipps Cross Hospital
- Staff speaking of visible and engaging leaders at all levels, and an improved organisational culture
- Better oversight of care quality across core services, significant investment in IT systems, improved data quality, and better engagement with patients
The findings means that two-thirds of all the core service areas ratings at Barts Health are now officially rated as good or outstanding. This includes the group’s specialist heart and cancer services at St Bartholomew’s hospital, which were rated good in all areas, with outstanding leadership, in a previous inspection.
Alwen Williams, Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Today is a significant step forward on our improvement journey and a tribute to the skill and dedication of our 17,000 hard-working and talented staff. We are grateful for the support our regulators have given us in recent years.
"We will continue to address areas where there is further work to be done, and now look forward to charting our own course to becoming a high-performing group of hospitals, renowned for excellence and innovation, and providing safe and compassionate care to the people of east London and beyond.”
Prof Edward Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “Barts Health NHS Trust has made real, consistent progress. Credit must go to the leadership team at the trust and to the commitment and hard work of all the staff. There has been substantial improvement in the quality of services at the trust and I am happy to recommend that it is removed from special measures."
NHS Improvement's executive medical director and chief operating officer Dr Kathy McLean said: “I want to recognise the unwavering commitment of staff and leaders who have worked so hard to improve care for their patients and who should be very proud of this achievement. This is fantastic news for the trust and its patients and I am so pleased that the trust’s journey of improvement has resulted in this positive outcome.
“However, there is still work to do in some areas to ensure that patient services are the very best they can be.
“We will continue to support the trust as it seeks to build on the excellent progress it has made and ensure that further improvements recommended in the CQC report are satisfied and sustained.”