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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Clinicians leading the way on significant improvements

Clinicians leading the way on significant improvements

Posted on Friday 14th February 2014

Nurse practitoners working in ambulatory care

Significant improvements are taking effect at North Cumbria’s hospitals to implement changes to improve safety, deliver the best possible clinical outcomes for patients and improve overall performance.

This has been recognised today by Monitor - the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts and the NHS Trust Development Authority – the organisation which is overseeing all NHS Trusts currently in special measures.

North Cumbria is “buddied” with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, one of the best performing NHS Foundation Trusts in England and is working closely with North East colleagues to ensure high quality, safe and effective patient care at all times.

Following the publication of the Keogh review last year, North Cumbria has focused all efforts on improving the safety and quality of care with necessary actions taken to ensure safe patient care in line with national NHS standards. This is now starting to see a much improved performance in A&E waiting times and the delivery of the 18 week patient pathway, with improved staffing levels and higher standards of infection control and prevention across the organisation.

This work is also having a measureable impact on the Trust’s Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) which has fallen from 118 to 107.5 which is within expected range for the first time in two years.

Improvement initiatives across the Trust include:

• A detailed service improvement plan to maintain and enhance the national emergency care standard which requires over 95 per cent of patients attending A&E to be seen within four hours.

• A new ambulatory care model at the Cumberland Infirmary, which replicates an already successful model at West Cumberland Hospital, is already showing considerable benefits to patients providing them with a “same-day” service, avoiding delays in A&E, preventing unnecessary admissions and freeing capacity in the main hospitals.

• An improved discharge process to ensure that no patients wait longer to be discharged from hospital than they need to. Bed capacity has improved with the conversion of Maple A at the Cumberland Infirmary to create further beds and there is a recruitment plan underway for more nurses.

• Robust day-to-day cleaning and a rolling programme of deep cleaning across all wards of both hospitals.

North Cumbria has also reduced the number of patients waiting longer than 18-weeks for a surgical procedure from 1,000 to 350 by putting in place weekend theatre lists and ensuring patients are provided with the best appointment for their care. A total of 11 surgical services in North Cumbria’s hospitals are now providing an 18-week referral to treatment pathway. Improvement plans are also in place to ensure that all services can achieve the national standard of 90 per cent of inpatients starting their consultant-led treatment within 18 weeks of referral from their GP.

As part of ongoing work towards the acquisition, Northumbria Healthcare has helped introduce its award winning patient experience programme in North Cumbria with over 10,000 patients participating in a scheme designed to continuously improve care. Latest patient experience results in North Cumbria show that 89 per cent of inpatients rated the Trust as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’ which shows an overall 10 per cent increase since the new patient experience programme was put in place in April 2013.

Jeremy Rushmer, Medical Director at North Cumbria University NHS Trust, said: ““I am excited by some of the improvements and progress is demonstrative and genuine particularly in safety and quality provided by the hospitals.

“Our priority is to ensure that we provide high quality and safe care for all patients in North Cumbria – our patients deserve nothing less than this.

“At the same time as delivering the best quality healthcare, we have to ensure that patients are safe and that we are meeting the national regulatory safety and quality standards, so it will be very important over the next few weeks and months that this momentum continues and our improvement plans continue to be delivered.”

Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is encouraging to see improvements being made in North Cumbria and that this has been recognised nationally by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

“We continue to work very closely with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and together we are seeing real improvements in the care patients are experiencing.

“There are of course still challenges ahead, but with the continued commitment from all staff I am confident that improvements will continue to be made in preparation for the future acquisition. In the meantime, we are stepping up our efforts to accelerate progress to ensure acquisition can take place sooner rather than later.”