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28.04.16

'Radical' partnership with Ipswich required to save Colchester hospital

Colchester Hospital University FT is failing to make adequate improvements after being placed in special measures and must enter into a long-term partnership with Ipswich Hospital FT, NHS Improvement and the CQC have jointly declared.

The latest inspection from the CQC showed that services at Colchester are not of the required standard despite two years of special measures.

The CQC said they would not apply further special measures, meaning the partnership is now the only way for Colchester to avoid being placed under the Trust Special Administration process.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, who took urgent action against Colchester last year, said: “We have consistently found poor and unsafe practices which place patients at risk of harm at this trust. There have not been enough signs of improvement for me to recommend a further extension to Special Measures. 

“I do not have confidence in the ability of the trust's current board to address the issues I have highlighted, though I do recognise that the chief executive has only been in post a short time.  I believe a more radical solution is required to ensure the delivery of safe care at Colchester.

“I consider that the arrangements NHS Improvement has agreed with Ipswich offer a better route to bring about the improvements that patients urgently need to see at Colchester. We will continue to closely monitor progress.”

Nearly two-thirds of NHS trusts inspected by the CQC were rated as ‘needs improvement’.

Colchester also had the highest amount of ‘never events’ of any individual trust in the past year, including wrong site surgery and foreign objects being left in patients.

NHS Improvement will now set up the partnership, which will see staff with clinical and leadership expertise work across both organisations.

Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said that Colchester had made “many improvements”, but added: “We are all agreed that long term and sustainable improvement can only be assured if the trust works with another organisation.”

Frank Sims, CEO of the trust, said he welcomed NHS Improvement’s acknowledgement of improvements, including hiring 135 more staff, reducing the average waiting time for treatment from 7.8 weeks to 6.7 weeks since September and an increase in mandatory training compliance from 75.06% to 86.38% in the same period.

Sims thanked the trust’s “highly professional and dedicated staff” for their service, adding: "Improving care and quality to ensure we provide outstanding care, consistently for all patients at all times, will continue to be at the heart of everything we do.

He said that the trust’s board of directors had agreed in January that it was not clinically or financially sustainable in its current form and that it had to seek partners.

He added that Colchester and Ipswich are already collaborating on providing emergency vascular surgery.

(Image c. Nick Ansell from PA Wire)

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