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


Home > News > CQC report praises hardworking staff at North Cumbria's hospitals

CQC report praises hardworking staff at North Cumbria's hospitals

Posted on Thursday 10th July 2014

A report published today by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has praised the hardworking, caring and compassionate staff working across North Cumbria’s hospitals.

The report follows the recent Chief Inspector of Hospitals visit to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and the midwifery-led birthing service at Penrith Community Hospital.

Overall, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has been rated by the CQC as ‘requires improvement’, however every single service inspected by the CQC was rated ‘good’ for providing a caring service to patients.

Throughout the inspection the CQC saw ‘patients being treated with compassion, dignity and respect’ from staff who were clearly very caring and ‘committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for patients’.

The CQC inspected eight areas of care at both of the Trust’s hospitals and at the Cumberland Infirmary seven were found to ‘require improvement’, with critical care rated as ‘good’. At West Cumberland Hospital, both critical care and end of life care were rated as ‘good’ with the remainder rated as ‘requires improvement’. The midwifery-led birthing service at Penrith was rated as ‘good’.

At both hospital sites outpatient services are not meeting national standards around referral to treatment times and were rated by the CQC as inadequate under the safe domain, largely due to issues around the timely supply of up-to-date medical records to outpatient clinics.

At West Cumberland Hospital, medical services were also rated inadequate under the safe domain as a result of the ongoing issues being faced by the Trust with regard to recruitment and the high number of vacant consultant and nursing posts.

The CQC has outlined a series of recommendations which must now be made to further improve services. The Trust will remain in special measures with the NHS Trust Development Authority and continue to work closely with buddy trust and acquisition partner Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

North Cumbria will be re-inspected by the CQC in the next few months to ensure that improvements continue to be made, that credible plans are in place to address the key issued identified in the CQC report and with a view to the Trust coming out of special measures.

Commenting on the CQC report, chief executive Ann Farrar said: “Today marks another important milestone in our improvement journey and we wholeheartedly welcome the CQC report and recommendations. I am immensely proud of our staff who have been recognised by the CQC for the care and compassion they show our patients every single day in very challenging circumstances.

“Despite the challenges we continue to face, we must never lose sight of putting patients at the heart of everything we do and every decision we take. Everyone working for North Cumbria can today take real pride in the acknowledgement of their tireless efforts to look after our patients and provide high quality care.

“We are also very pleased to see many examples of good services within the CQC report and of course welcome the extra scrutiny on where further improvements still need to be made right across our organisation so that the Trust can be taken out of special measures. 

“What is clear from the CQC report is that some improvements, such as those relating medical records and outpatients, are within the gift of the Trust to deliver. Other problems, such as those linked to recruitment, will require NHS system wide solutions to ensure we can sustain services at West Cumberland Hospital and this must be addressed in the development of our five years strategies with NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group.

“We are under no illusions on the work that still needs to be done, however our staff, patients and the public should take confidence in today’s CQC report and the significant progress which we have made in the past 12 months to bring our mortality rates to within expected range and improve quality of care – this progress should not be underestimated is again down to the hard work and sheer determination of all our staff.

“We have always been very clear that this is a journey of improvement and today’s CQC report is another important step for us. The support we have had so far from Northumbria Healthcare has been invaluable and acquisition, once it takes place, will make us even stronger and further support our journey of continuous improvement.”

Later this year, North Cumbria University Hospitals will open a new centralised patient contact centre which will allow the Trust to standardise booking processes, prevent overbooking of outpatient clinics and help ensure that all patients have their appointments within nationally recommended timescales.

Whilst outpatients reception desks in both hospitals will remain in place and continue to play a vital role, a new centralised contact system, similar to the successful model in place at Northumbria Healthcare will be introduced to manage over 200,000 outpatient appointments every single year.

The aim is to make care as seamless as possible for patients and having one central point of contact will not only improve patient experience making it easier for people to access our appointments team, but also means we can implement a robust system to manage all patient bookings. Similar plans are also being developed to create a long term sustainable plan for the future of medical records management across the Trust.