Patients are looked after better than ever before at Whipps Cross hospital, according to the care regulator.
Two years after first raising concerns about standards at the hospital, the Care Quality Commission recognises that staff have made substantial improvements to the quality of patient care.
Following a series of inspections, the CQC has raised the hospital’s official rating to “requires improvement”.
The most recent inspection in May 2017 looked at outpatients and diagnostics, surgery and end of life care services, and all three were rated “good” for caring.
The inspectors reported that most patients were positive about their experience of care, and described staff as kind and compassionate. Staff interviewed described their team as ‘one big extended family.’
The CQC returned to re-inspect the three services after a previous inspection in July 2016 found significant improvement everywhere else in the hospital.
Its follow-up report found that:
- The Outpatients and Diagnostic Imaging service improved from “inadequate” to “requires improvement”. The CQC said staff treated patients with dignity and respect, and communication was better between staff and managers
- The End of Life Care service as a whole still “requires improvement” despite the improvement from “inadequate” to “good” for caring.
- Although the Surgery service was “good” for caring, it had not made progress and remained “inadequate” overall.
Since the CQC inspection in May 2017 the trust has:
- Improved the safety of theatres including installing new equipment and furniture
- Overhauled wards caring for people with dementia in a half a million pound refurbishment to bring staff closer to patients and improve safety
- Invested in providing A&E patients with faster care and next-day tests to save those who aren’t urgently in need from unnecessarily waiting overnight in hospital; freeing up beds for those most seriously unwell
- Developed name badges to help the visually impaired through a new forum for disabled patients and staff.
Alwen Williams, Chief Executive of Barts Health, said: “I am delighted the CQC recognises the improvements our staff have made to the quality of care we give to patients at Whipps Cross hospital. I am proud of the commitment and determination of our caring and dedicated team. I am sorry for the serious issues raised by the CQC and we will not shy away from addressing them. There is still much to do, and we will focus on getting better, quicker - but today marks a significant milestone in our journey of improvement.”
Steve Russell, NHS Improvement’s Executive Regional Managing Director (London), said: "Staff working at Whipps Cross and in the wider Barts Health NHS Trust should be proud that the CQC’s unannounced reinspection of some of its key areas earlier this year has resulted in this improved rating. The fact that the hospital is now rated as Requires Improvement overall – up from its previous Inadequate rating – is a result of staff at all levels working together to make genuine improvements that patients are already benefitting from.
"It is disappointing that the progress made overall has not been reflected in surgical services at the hospital and whilst I’ve no doubt that staff themselves would be the first to say there is clearly much more progress to be made there is a clear need for clinical and managerial leaders to accelerate the pace of change and secure faster improvement for their patients and staff.
"NHS Improvement will continue to work closely with all parts of Barts Health NHS Trust to ensure the progress recognised in today’s improved rating for Whipps Cross continues further and faster. It is vital that patients, staff and the local community can be sure that the ‘good’ awarded for the three inspected services’ caring domain becomes the minimum standard for other areas."