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Another Keogh Review trust returns to special measures

A second trust originally named in the Keogh Review has been put back into special measures, NHS Improvement (NHSI) has today announced.

It comes just days after a neighbouring provider, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Trust, was also put back into special measures following an inspection that uncovered serious problems with the running of its care.  

Now, an inspection of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) by the CQC, which includes Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital and Grantham Hospital, found that care services were inadequate, and recommended the return to special measures in an attempt to save standards from falling any further.

The recommendation comes just a couple of weeks after the last Keogh Review trust had been taken out of special measures, a milestone celebrated before Northern Lincolnshire slid back into the scheme.

ULHT was one of the 11 placed into special measures by Bruce Keogh in 2013 and strived to make improvements since, but a number of areas were found to have decreased in quality since its last inspection in October 2016.

And during an unannounced inspection in December, inspectors highlighted the emergency hospital at Pilgrim Hospital as a particular concern to patient safety and wellbeing.

They also said that there were unacceptable delays to treatment for patients waiting for outpatient appointments or inpatient treatments. On top of that, CQC inspectors found that leadership was not good enough and failing to meet patient needs.

Chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, Sir Mike Richards, said it was disappointing to see the trust performing poorly after it had shown signs of improvement.

“There must be significant improvements in the quality and safety of patient care, leadership and managerial oversight of quality and performance and effective implementation of the existing governance arrangements consistently across all of the services,” he added.

“Further improvement is required to ensure the trust is able to manage risk effectively, and cope with patient demand and flow across its services in a timely and sustainable way. We will continue to monitor the trust and will return to check on the progress it must make. NHSI will be working closely with the trust to ensure full support is available to make the improvements needed.”

But Jeff Worrall, delivery and improvement director at NHSI, said that there was some good news in the trust being rated as good for being caring.

“The trust has already demonstrated once that it can make positive changes. We will be working closely with the team to make sure those changes are lasting ones,” said Worrall.

“We have already put an improvement director and programme of support in place in response to the concerns raised and will be working alongside trust staff to address the specific areas outlined in the report.”

The board of ULHT stated that they were disappointed with the findings, but also accepted the recommendations for places where improvements were needed.

Chief executive Jan Sobieraj said: “The safety and quality of patient care is our number one priority. We’re disappointed with some of the findings in the report but we are taking them very seriously. We are sorry to our patients as we know this isn’t good enough.”

Sobieraj added that improvements had already been made in many areas of concern that were raised by the CQC.

“Immediate action was taken and many issues raised by the CQC have since been resolved. Further actions are planned to ensure improvements are sustained,” he stated.

The CEO of the trust went on to reassure patients that hard work was going on behind the scenes to ensure services were run safely and effectively in the future.

“We know we still have more work to do, and we have been very open about the long-term challenges we face in making our services safer and sustainable,” he accepted. “Our biggest challenges are around our shortages of permanent staff and we struggle to meet some national quality standards.”

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