A year ago today, eleven trusts were placed into special measures following reviews by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. All eleven have now been subject to new-style CQC inspections by the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards.
That announcement coincided with Sir Mike taking up his post as Chief Inspector of Hospitals and the start of CQC’s new approach to inspecting hospitals.
Speaking on the anniversary of the trusts being placed in special measures, Professor Sir Mike Richards said: “We have achieved a great deal in the last twelve months. Using our new way of inspecting hospitals, with significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public, we have inspected 65 hospitals, 12 mental health trusts and eight stand-alone community health trusts.
“While we know we have more work to do to refine the way we carry out these inspections and report on them, some key themes are emerging. For example, we have found too much variation – not just between hospitals, but even between different services in the same hospital. Across our inspections we have found staff committed to providing compassionate care.
“Whenever CQC inspects we always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led? The inspections have also underlined to me the importance of good leadership, which is a hallmark of a good or outstanding trust.
“We have also started to award ratings that express our clear judgment on hospital services. These ratings inform my view as to whether I recommend that a trust be put in special measures.
“Recently, we have completed our inspections of the trusts that Sir Bruce Keogh put in special measures following his review of them.
“We have seen significant improvements in almost all of the 11 trusts that were put into special measures, with exceptional progress in two trusts and very good progress in a further three. The hard work by trust staff that has underpinned this progress should be recognised. Special measures bring a new focus on quality improvement in trusts which have previously struggled to provide high quality care.
“Through CQC’s new inspection process we were able to identify good and in some instances outstanding practice, but also areas which require improvement. In some cases we still observed inadequate practice. These areas now need the most urgent attention.
“Two trusts, Basildon NHSFT and George Eliot NHS trust have already reached a rating of ‘good’ overall and are to be congratulated. This is a remarkable turnaround in under one year. I am confident that at least three further trusts can also reach ‘good’ status within a reasonable time-frame and should therefore come out of special measures, but with ongoing support. In other cases I am recommending a further period of six months in special measures, but I am hopeful that they will then be ready to exit.
“Next week, I will publish a report that brings together my findings from my re-inspections of all the trusts put into special measures following Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s reviews.”
Mario Ambrosi, head of Corporate Affairs at older people’s care charity Anchor says: ‘Any measure that encourages consistently high standards of care for older people is welcome news. There are many excellent care homes and services operating in the UK and good quality care in older age is a right to which we are all entitled.’