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The State of Care in NHS acute hospitals - focus on Cambridgeshire


As the Care Quality Commission (CQC) launches its State of care in NHS acute hospitals report: 2014-16, it gives us a chance to reflect on the enormous journey that two of our local acute hospital trusts have been on in the last two and a half years. 

The report, published today, highlights what the CQC has learned from three year's worth of inspections of NHS Acute Hospitals.  Between September 2013 and June 2016 the CQC completed inspections of all 136 NHS acute non-specialist trusts and all 17 specialist trusts.  The experiences of both Hinchingbrooke Hospital and Cambridge University Hospitals, who both moved from a poor CQC rating to a good rating, are included. 

Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust was placed into special measures after being inspected by the CQC in September 2014. This followed serious concerns surrounding staffing numbers and risks to patient safety, particularly in the A&E department and medical care. On re-inspection in May 2016, the trust had made significant improvements in staffing and patient safety. 

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was placed into special measures after being inspected in April 2015. When the Trust was re-inspected in September 2016, they had made significant improvements and were given a good rating. Lots of work had been done within the trust to improve how well the senior leaders communicated with hospital staff. 

Overall, the CQC found that most hospitals are providing good quality care and looking after patients well. However, it says some trusts have blind spots about the quality of care they are giving in a particular core service, even in trusts rated good overall.  They found that often Trusts did not have an effective safety culture or reliable systems to ensure safety.

For Cambridgeshire, having two acute trusts in special measures was very much a symptom of the huge financial challenges within the local health and care system. 

Val Moore, our Chair, said:

"We would like to repeat our congratulations to both Trusts and their staff for the huge amount of work undertaken to improve services in their hospitals. With both hospitals, we were able to support the work they did to improve services and involve patients in this process, for example at Hinchingbrooke we helped the hospital develop a stronger patient panel." 

Since then, we have been involved in a programme of enter and view feedback opportunities at both trusts. Enter and view is Healthwatch's legal right to visit places that provide publicly funded health or care, to see and hear how people experience those services. Our trained volunteers have visted each hospital to look at different aspects of care, for example Outpatients and the Emergency Department. After each visit, we have written public reports that include recommendations for improving care. 

Read the State of care in NHS acute hospitals report here

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