An inspection at Kettering General Hospital has found it has made significant improvements to patient safety and care.
The hospital was issued a warning notice by the Care Quality Commission in October 2016 after being placed into special measures.
A subsequent inspection in June found the hospital has met the requirements of the notice, but it will still be in special measures until a full inspection takes place this autumn when it could be regraded.
Interim chief executive Fiona Wise said: “We have worked hard and comprehensively to address the issues raised by the CQC and I think the report reflects that.
“For example we have reviewed and increased staffing levels in some areas, increased staff training where needed and addressed some estate issues – eg developing an improved mental health assessment room in A&E and adding to security on our children’s ward.
“We have also been working to improve our systems and processes to ensure potential concerns are properly highlighted and addressed at an early stage.”
The report published today (Thursday) found that effective risk management processes were now in place and that staff training in paediatric competencies had significantly improved.
Staff showed care and compassion towards patients and their families and patients told inspectors they had been treated with kindness, dignity, and respect.
It also says KGH has successfully addressed children’s services issues in both A&E and Skylark Ward.
Actions have included better risk processes, increased staffing, improved training, and additional CCTV and intercom security on Skylark Ward.
Director of nursing and quality Leanne Hackshall said: “The CQC found we now have strengthened processes for assessing and looking after children with mental health issues.
“We are working closely with our community health trust colleagues to look at the treatment and care pathways for these patients to ensure, where possible, they are not admitted to our children’s ward.”
The inspection also found progress has been made in the percentage of patients admitted or discharged within four hours from the hospital’s A&E department.
The trust saw 83 per cent of patients admitted or discharged from A&E within four hours in 2016-2017 against the 95 per cent target.
That increased to 89.7 per cent in July 2017, but performance is not consistent and the hospital says it reflects continued high demand and difficulties in discharge putting pressure on both A&E and its wards.
KGH’s new chairman Alan Burns said: “Much progress has been made but further work is needed.
“For example the report shows that we have made progress in reducing long waits for operations for patients following an extensive waiting list improvement programme.
“But some of our waits are still unacceptable and we aim to reduce them much further and have put in additional resources, including extra theatre sessions and outpatient appointments, to achieve this.”
CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Prof Ted Baker, said there has been a ‘positive change in culture’ among staff.
He said: “Our inspectors found a number of improvements had been made at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust since our last inspection, and staff are to be commended for this.
“We noted a positive change in culture among staff and leaders at the trust.
“Staff felt that communication from the trust wide team down to ward staff had improved.
“Patients arriving by ambulance or self-presenting to the emergency department reception now received a more timely initial time to clinical assessment.
“Previous concerns surrounding the number of patients waiting over 52 weeks for their treatment on the admitted and non-admitted referral to treatment pathways had improved. This had reduced from 413 to 182 patients waiting.
“As this was a focused inspection, we looked at the main areas of concern detailed in the warning notice that we had previously issued.
“We did not inspect all areas so therefore no core service was rated and the October 2016 inspection ratings remain in place.
“The trust still has some way to go on its improvement journey.
“There were a number of areas where action was still needed, particularly with regard to continuing the improvement in delays of triaging patients in A&E, as well as monitoring concerns surrounding protocols in Skylark ward at the community and mental health service.
“We have made it clear where we expect to see further improvement and the trust knows what it must do to address the issues we have highlighted.
“We will continue to monitor Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and will return to check on its progress.”