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NHS’s largest trust leaves special measures after ‘transformation’

The largest NHS trust in the country has been taken out of special measures for quality after nearly four years, with inspectors finding a substantial improvement in the quality of services – but remains in financial special measures.

Barts Health NHS Trust in London has been rated as ‘requires improvements’ by the CQC, which said it had transformed its patient care but that there remained warnings about some areas of performances –such as finances and maternity services.

It has now been removed from special measures for performance but the London trust, which serves 2.6 million people and has a workforce of 17,000 across three acute hospitals and two specialist sites, remains in financial special measures.

The London trust was placed in special measures in 2015 after inspectors found serious failures in the quality of care and concerns that a culture of bullying and a failing management would be unable to make the necessary improvements.

Several inspections of the trust followed but the CQC continued to identify concerns relating to patient safety, organisational culture, and governance.

England’s chief inspector of hospitals Edward Baker said: “Since that time, CQC has been keeping a close watch, with support from local CCGs and NHS Improvement. In many areas the quality of service has been transformed.

“Credit must go to the leadership team at the trust and to the commitment and hard work of all the staff. I congratulate them on what they have achieved.

“While the overall rating remains ‘requires improvement,’ 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.”

Inspectors found better oversight of care across core services, significant investment in IT, and better engagement with patients. Staff reported visible and engaging leaders at all levels and an improved culture at the trust.

However, the CQC said areas still remain that require crucial attention, particularly around the ‘inadequate’ maternity services in Newham; and the trust also remains in financial special measures in the face of a deficit of £84.7m over 2018-19.

Alwen Williams, chief executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, said Britain’s busiest hospital group was celebrating its departure from special measures for quality.

She 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.”

NHSI’s executive medical director and chief operating officer, Kathy McLean, commented: “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.

She said the CQC rating was “fantastic news” but stated that there was still much work to be done, adding that NHSI would continue to work with the trust.

Image credit - chrisdorney


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