NHS trust improves watchdog rating to Good

PUBLISHED: 10:35 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 30 August 2019

Health trust chief Louise Ashley is delighted with the improved rating from watchdogs. Picture: Lesley Cook

Health trust chief Louise Ashley is delighted with the improved rating from watchdogs. Picture: Lesley Cook

© Lesley Cook Headshots

A health watchdog has found the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust has made enough improvements that its quality rating has gone up.

The Care Quality Commission says it welcomes the improvements the trust has made in the quality of services.

The trust is now rated as Good overall, up from Requires Improvement from its previous inspection.

The Good rating covers areas including being effective, caring responsive and well-led.

The being safe category does, however, have a Requires Improvement rating.

CQC said it inspected three core services: urgent and emergency care, medical care and surgery between May and June 2019. It also looked specifically at management and leadership to answer the key question - is the trust well led?

CQC said it has also published the trust's Use of Resources report, which is based on an assessment undertaken by NHS Improvement. The trust has been rated as Requires Improvement for using its resources productively. The combined rating for the trust, considering CQC's inspection for the quality of services and NHSI's assessment of Use of Resources, is Good.

Dr Nigel Acheson, CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals for the south, said: "Since we last inspected, staff at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust have worked to ensure that improvements have been embedded.

"I was concerned to hear that within urgent and emergency care, the leadership team lacked stability and there were concerns highlighted that demonstrated a need to strengthen the governance of the department. However, we are assured that these issues are being addressed by the board and that a new leadership team was now in place within the department. We will check what improvements have taken place when we return in due course.

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"But, overall, I am pleased that the trust has taken the findings from our previous inspection reports and built on them to provide improved services for their patients. I also want to congratulate them from moving from Requires Improvement to achieving their Good overall rating.

"Our inspectors found a board that understood the challenges to providing high-quality, sustainable services. They were supported by a committed, caring workforce who treated patients with compassion and dignity while providing them with the emotional support they needed.

"We will return at a later date to check on the further progress the trust has made."

Inspectors found in urgent and emergency care, staff treated patients with kindness and often provided emotional support to patients, families and carers.

The inspectors said the service, however, did not always control infection risk or medicines well. Patients on Cypress Ward shared mixed sex accommodation. During busy times this area lacked space. Sometimes this meant patients' dignity, respect and confidentiality was not always maintained.

In the medicine services, staff understood how to protect patients from abuse. The service worked well with other agencies to do so. Staff had training on how to recognise and report abuse, and they knew how to apply it. Equipment and the premises were visibly clean. Staff knew how to report incidents or near misses via the trust's electronic reporting system. Managers investigated incidents and shared lessons learned with the whole team and the wider service.

In surgery, staff understood the service's vision and values, and how to apply them in their work. Staff felt respected, supported and valued by managers.

Louise Ashley, trust CEO, said: "We believe the people and communities we serve deserve the very best possible care and I am sure our patients, communities and stakeholders will also be delighted that their local acute trust is providing such good services. We are not, however, perfect and we want to learn from any mistakes we make or criticism we receive.

"We have therefore taken immediate action to address those areas covered in the report that require improvement and have produced a comprehensive action plan to prioritise and ensure that we comply fully with all of the requirements in the report."

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