Hospital trust taken out of quality special measures

Eastbourne DGH
Eastbourne DGH

The trust which runs the Eastbourne DGH and the Conquest Hospital has been taken out of quality special measures following a visit from the health watchdog.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) was rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in almost all inspected areas by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) during a visit in March.

Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-170118-125056001

Conquest Hospital, Hastings. SUS-170118-125056001

The CQC found the trust has made a marked improvement in the quality of its care and concluded that it no longer needs to be in quality special measures.

The CQC acknowledged that on the basis of the inspection in March, the trust’s rating would be ‘good’, however the overall rating remains as ‘requires improvement’ because not all services were inspected.

Areas that were inspected were Medicine and Urgent Care on both sites, Surgery and Maternity at Conquest Hospital and Outpatients at Eastbourne DGH. The Emergency Department at Eastbourne was rated as ‘requires improvement’ overall but ‘good’ for well led and caring. For the first time ‘outstanding’ ratings were given in three categories.

Dr Adrian Bull, ESHT chief executive, said: “I am delighted that the hard work and commitment of people across the organisation has been recognised by the CQC, with the services they inspected rated as mainly good or outstanding.

“I am also pleased that the chief inspector sees no reason for us to stay in quality special measures. We have a talented and professional workforce and the rating of ‘good’ for caring is recognition of this. The Trust only remains ‘requires improvement’ because of the limited inspection. Once our other services are inspected, we fully expect to be ‘good’ overall and we have encouraged the CQC to come back and inspect those areas as soon as they can.

“Our aim is to be an outstanding organisation by 2020 which provides excellent healthcare for the people of East Sussex, and that people are happy and proud to work. This report is clear evidence we are making good progress. We must continue to provide consistently high standards of care across all of our services and seek out every opportunity to make improvements to achieve our ambition of becoming outstanding.

“We are committed to tacking our financial challenges, but remain focused on maintaining and improving the quality and safety of the services provided. We will not take financial decisions without undertaking a quality impact assessment.”

The trust originally entered special measures because of concerns with the quality of its services in September 2015. Two inspections in September 2014 and March 2015 rated the trust as inadequate overall. CQC inspected again in October 2016 and found improvements had taken place but inspectors were not confident the improvements were embedded and there was insufficient assurance they could be sustained.

The trust was also placed in financial special measures by NHS Improvement in January 2017 because of the large financial deficit.

Following the latest inspection in March 2018, the Chief Inspector for Hospitals, Professor Edward Baker, has written to NHS Improvement to note that the trust has made a marked improvement in the quality of its services and that from a quality of care perspective there is no reason for it to stay in special measures.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Edward Baker, said: “I am very pleased to report that since our last inspection we have found good evidence that the trust is making steady progress. In our most recent inspection we were encouraged by the sustained improvements that have been made by the trust in the last 18 months.

“Nearly three years ago, we rated the trust as Inadequate overall because of concerns relating to patient safety, the organisational culture and governance throughout the trust. Since that time we have been keeping a close watch, with support from the local clinical commissioning groups and NHS Improvement.

“It is apparent that the trust is on a journey of improvement and progress has been made both clinically and in the trust’s governance structures, although, I acknowledge that the trust’s financial arrangements are still under review from NHS Improvement.

“There are a number of areas that still require attention and we will return to check this.”

Inspectors found the board committed to the well-being of patients within their trust. The executive directors presented a unified and collaborative team who were both supported but also challenged by the non-executive directors. The relationship between the chairman and chief executive was strong with the two providing robust, visible and respected leadership across the trust.

The trust had a clear strategy with distinct objectives that gave a well understood sense of direction to the staff. The strategy acknowledged the financial challenges faced by the trust but remained firmly grounded in improvements for patient care and their outcomes as the driving force with a resultant reduction in costs.

The trust had worked hard to improve several historic areas of poor performance. In emergency care, the trust was on the way to meet the requirement for 95 per cent of patients to be seen within four hours of attendance at the accident and emergency departments. In this respect it is one of the most improved trusts in England.

The full report can be found at