Inspectors praise caring staff but say Kettering General Hospital as a whole must improve

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Kettering General Hospital has been told it needs to improve by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The inspection, which took place in early September, also found the hospital had caring staff and had worked hard recently to make improvements.

But the CQC, which published its report this morning (Tuesday, November 25), has given the Rothwell Road hospital a checklist of improvements to make before its next inspection.

Individual ratings have been given to each hospital department, with one – end of life care – being branded inadequate.

Urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, critical care, maternity and gynaecology, outpatients and diagnostic imaging were all rated as “requires improvement”, while services for children and young people was rated as good.

The trust was rated as good with regard to whether services were caring and requires improvement with regard to whether services were safe, effective, well-led and responsive.

Across the trust, the inspection team found areas of outstanding practice. These included:

· The caring and responsive approach to bereaved families by staff in the mortuary was outstanding. Staff there went beyond the call of duty to support families, particularly those bereaved of children and babies.

· The specialist support services were outstanding in the children and young people’s department.

· Incidents and complaints were handled professionally and sensitively. The trust took an open and transparent approach with a family following the death of a young person. The family are now involved with the development of improvements at the trust and have regular meetings with staff.

· The implementation of the trust’s ‘I Will’ campaign following a serious incident proved very effective. Staff meet regularly to discuss how systems could be improved and how to take action should they see poor patient care.

However, changes must be made in areas including staffing levels in the surgery and critical care units and infection control in maternity and outpatients.

The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “We saw that staff at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have been working hard recently to make improvements and we saw several areas of very good practice.

“Overall, this trust was found to require improvement, although we rated it good in terms of its caring staff. The trust has given us assurances that it is making the necessary improvements and we have already witnessed some of these in action. “People deserve to be treated in services which are safe, caring, effective, well-led, and responsive to their needs and this is what we look at when we carry out our inspections. We will continue to monitor this trust closely and this will include further inspections.”

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Kettering’s MP Philip Hollobone asked health minister Dan Poulter if more funding would be directed towards the hospital to help it improve.

Mr Hollobone said: “Kettering General Hospital serves one of the areas of fastest population growth and greatest aging in the whole country. Today’s CQC report shows that whilst it has some of the most caring staff in the whole of the NHS, many areas of the hospital require significant improvement.”

And the MP asked: “Will the minister ensure that future NHS funding decisions are better targeted at areas such as Kettering with such costly demographics?”

Dr Poulter said both Nene and Corby CCGs had received extra real-terms funding increases.

Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Andy Sawford said the report confirmed what people associated with the hospital already knew. He added: “The hospital is on a journey to improve services and has come a long way recently. Only two years ago the Healthier Together cuts plan put key services at risk. The staff and new leadership, who I meet with regularly, are working hard to turn things around. The transformation of A&E from one of the worst performing to one of the best in the country is a symbol of this.

“At a time when the hospital is coping with an unprecedented rise in demand and significant constraints in resources, the CQC report shows there is much more to do to make Kettering Hospital a great hospital.

“It is good to see children’s services praised but I know that everyone involved will want to make sure that all services are improved. I will keep doing my best to support the hospital and soon we are presenting a £20m funding bid to the Department of Health to improve facilities.”

The watchdog for patients in the county, Healthwatch Northamptonshire, also said the findings of the CQC report tallied with its experiences.

The group’s CEO Rosie Newbigging said: “Healthwatch Northamptonshire is committed to working with the Trust to help them further raise the standard of care at the hospital so that every patient experiences the best possible care.

“We already deliver an extensive programme of Enter and View at the hospital [a statutory right allowing it to visit hospitals to find out what patients think] and we are due to meet with senior managers shortly to talk about our future plan of work.

“We want our local hospitals and services to be achieving ratings of ‘Good’, and work towards a rating of ‘Outstanding’. The people of Northamptonshire deserve better.”