Kettering General Hospital is no longer inadequate, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have said.
The hospital was placed into special measures after a highly critical inspection report last year.
It will remain in special measures for the time being to access specialist support but has now been given the higher grade of ‘requires improvment’ in a report published today (Tuesday).
Kettering General Hospital’s chairman, Alan Burns, said: “I am pleased the work our staff have put into improving safety, and the way we organise and deliver care, has been recognised with an improved overall CQC rating.
“I am also pleased that, once again, the CQC rated our services as good in the caring category both overall and in all of the individual services they visited – as this is at the centre of everything we do and is a key part of our organisational core values.”
In its last inspection KGH was given the lowest possible rating for being safe and well-led.
But this inspection, which took place over November and December, found both should instead be graded as requires improvement.
In all of the areas inspected there was not a single domain area in which overall performance deteriorated.
Inspectors noted leaders were aiming to create an environment in which excellence in clinical care would flourish but that there were still issues that needed to be addressed.
Interim chief executive Fiona Wise said: “The report is a fair representation of where the trust currently stands and identifies those areas of focus that we are working hard to address and improve.
“We recognise the issues we have in emergency care and diagnostics and continue to work to address them – we are reducing our backlog of diagnostic results and are working on short-term and long-term plans to address emergency care, including a bid to completely re-provide the trust’s emergency department.”
“Overall we also need to ensure that the improvements we have made in risk management and patient safety are embedded across the entire organisation and that we continue to improve the way we learn from mistakes.
“We also need to strengthen our focus on training to enable our staff to consistently deliver the high standards we have set ourselves across all areas of the trust.”
Issues to be addressed included:
- improving waiting times in A&E
- improving radiology result waiting times and procedures
- improving staffing levels in children and young person’s services and diagnostics
- improving compliance with policies on infection control
The inspection also found that facilities for children in A&E are not as good as they could be and that the outpatients department is not as private as it could be.
Chief inspector of hospitals Professor Ted Baker said: “We found a number of improvements had been made at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust but there are still several areas where improvements must be made.
“Leadership of the trust had improved to give a clearer focus on the work needed to improve all services.
“We were impressed how caring staff were across the trust which we rated good in every area.
“Staff cared for patients with compassion and feedback from patients confirmed that staff treated them with kindness.
“We saw significant improvements in the outpatients service, was now rated as good overall.
“Improvements had also been made in the children and young people’s service.”
Prof Baker added that there were still aspects of the hospital that were inadequate.
He said: “There were services that had not improved since we last visited which the trust needs to address as a priority.
“Urgent and emergency services and diagnostic imaging were still rated as inadequate overall.
“The radiography service was not providing a safe service for patients.
“Diagnostic images which had not been reported in a timely manner which meant the service was not managing potential risks to patient safety.”
NHS Improvement’s executive medical director Kathy McLean said: “While there is still some way to go to ensure that all services are at a standard patients should be able to expect, we are pleased to see that improvements have been made across several areas at the trust.
“It is clearly positive that the trust has moved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’ overall, and the leadership now needs to build on this progress further.
“We are also encouraged by the ‘good’ rating for caring. All staff can feel justifiably proud of the hard work they have put in to achieve quality care for patients.
“As always, patient safety is our top priority.
“The trust remains in special measures, and we will continue to work closely with them as part of that process to ensure that further improvements are made quickly and sustainably.”
The CQC will return to inspect the trust at a later date to check on progress with the areas highlighted for improvement.