East Lancs hospitals ratings raised to 'good'

Along with Royal Blackburn Hospital, Burnley General has seen its rating raised to 'good' after the latest bout of inspections.
Along with Royal Blackburn Hospital, Burnley General has seen its rating raised to 'good' after the latest bout of inspections.

After a series of improvements, the East Lancashire NHS Trust's rating has been raised to 'good' after the latest bout of inspections from the Quality Care Commission.

According to England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, the necessary alterations have been implemented in both Burnley General Hospital and Royal Blackburn Hospital to warrant an improved rating for the healthcare services provided.

Having been put on special measures in July 2013 after a review into hospitals with above average mortality rates by Sir Bruce Keogh, the two hospitals have now improved sufficiently across the board and in specific areas of concern to warrant a revised rating from the QCC.

“This latest report represents further progress by East Lancashire Hospitals, who should be congratulated on all their hard work,” said The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards.

“The trust has responded well to the inspection process. From a position of special measures in 2013 to an overall rating of Good has clearly been a story of steady and sustained improvement by all concerned.

“The trust has a clear vision to be widely recognised as a provider of safe, personal and effective care – and we saw this in practice during our inspection,” Professor Sir Mike added.

“I note that the number of staff who would recommend the trust as a place to work has improved further,” he added. “All the staff we met were dedicated to achieving the best care for patients.”

Notable improvements were seen across various hospital sectors, including patient care, experience, and safety; the rescheduling of cancelled surgical appointments; nurse staffing; and early dispatches made in conjunction with local GPs and an specialist Intensive Care Team.

However, having only come out of special measures in May 2014, both Royal Blackburn and Burnley General still had key areas that required improvement despite recent successes.

The urgent and emergency services and the medical care at Royal Blackburn were cited as areas ‘requiring improvement’, while at Burnley General the effectiveness of the healthcare, how well-led the medical teams were, and care for outpatients were also cited as being below par.

At both hospitals, the general responsiveness to medical issues was found to be in need of enhancement as well, demonstrating that there is yet more work to be done.

“The trust does still face some challenges and the managers are well aware that there are still areas for improvement,” continued Professor Sir Mike.

“For example, the emergency department continues to find the four-hour wait target challenging. Also, recruitment of doctors in some areas remains difficult, although we could see that action is being taken to develop doctors internally to reduce the need to recruit from outside.

“We shall continue to monitor the work being done to address these issues,” he said.

There were, however, areas of great success at both branches, with the surgery leadership at both Royal Blackburn and Burnley General rated as ‘outstanding’ by the QCC.

Professor Sir Mike said: “I am optimistic that this improvement can be sustained and I look forward to reporting further progress.”