A Suffolk NHS trust has been ranked as one of the best in the country by a watchdog.
The Bury St Edmunds based West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) received the highest rating, ‘outstanding’, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – one of just seven general hospitals in England, and the only one in the Midlands and East region, to hold the accolade.
Inspectors said WSFT staff ‘truly respected and valued patients as individuals and empowered them as partners in their care, practically and emotionally, by offering an exceptional and distinctive service.’
The Care Quality Commission visited the trust in November last year, inspecting its end-of-life and outpatient services and reviewing how well-led the organisation was.
The trust was rated ‘outstanding’ for being caring, effective and well-led, and ‘good’ for being safe and responsive.
Stephen Dunn, chief executive of the trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received an outstanding rating.
This is a testament to everyone’s hard work and unwavering commitment.Stephen Dunn
“This is a testament to everyone’s hard work and unwavering commitment. I am privileged to see the incredible care our staff provide 24/7, 365 days a year, and I’m delighted that their efforts have been recognised by the CQC.
“I am particularly proud that our end-of-life service has moved from requires improvement in our last inspection, to outstanding.
“Good end of life care is tailored to the person who needs it, and this report shows that our staff go above and beyond to ensure comfort, dignity and kindness is at the heart of what they do.”
It follows the busiest winter the trust has seen with record numbers of emergency attendances and admissions to the hospital.
December saw a six per cent rise in people admitted to the hospital compared to the same month the previous year.
The trust was last inspected in March 2016, when it was rated as ‘good’ overall.
On end of life care, which improved to ‘outstanding’, inspectors found that:
- Staff truly respected and valued patients as individuals and empowered them as partners in their care, practically and emotionally, by offering an exceptional and distinctive service.
- Patients said that staff went that extra mile and their care and support exceeded their expectations.
- Staff were highly motivated and inspired to offer care that was kind and promoted people’s dignity.
- The trust had compassionate, inclusive and effective leadership at all levels.
On outpatients, which remained ‘good’, inspectors said that:
- Staff cared for patients with compasssion and empathy.
- The trust has consistently performed better than the England average for people being seen within two weeks of an urgent GP referral, and receiving treatment within 31 days for a suspected cancer.
Inspectors rated how well-led the organisation was as ‘oustanding’ and found that:
- The trust had a stable, experienced leadership team.
- Senior leaders were visible and approachable.
- The trust had very positive NHS staff survey results. The trust had the best staff engagement score in England and had built on a very positive score in the preceding year.
- Significant work had been undertaken to address concerns regarding culture in maternity services since the last inspection.
On areas for improvement in outpatients, inspectors said the trust should ensure that:
- All equipment in outpatients is appropriately electrically safety checked.
- All staff receive an appraisal.
- Patients receive treatment in a timely way.
- Team meetings are minuted.
Mr Dunn added: “Although we have been rated outstanding we know we are not perfect - there are areas we still need to work on and the report will help us to focus on addressing these so we can continue to improve.
“Twenty-seventeen was, in many ways, a very difficult year for the trust and we have more challenges ahead.
“Despite being classed as one of the most efficient organisations in the NHS, like others we are facing one of our toughest ever periods financially.
“In order to meet increasing demand from an ageing population, drive up quality and respond to rising patient expectations, we know we will have to find ways to do more with the same amount of money.
“This means we have made, and will continue to have to make, some tough decisions.
“I am immensely grateful to our senior leaders, including our previous chair, Roger Quince, for the compassionate and strong leadership they have shown during these times.
“But I am confident that through the work we’re undertaking, and the continued dedication of our amazing staff, we will do everything in our power to ensure patients and their families continue to receive the highest standard of care.
“We want to work towards every service provided by the trust being rating as outstanding.”
Dale Bywater, NHS Improvement’s executive regional managing director for the Midlands and East, said: “This is a fantastic achievement, and testament to the dedication and commitment of staff at the trust.
“They can be justifiably proud of all the hard work they have put in to achieve outstanding services for patients and families.
“We are particularly pleased to see the leadership working so effectively with its teams to provide high quality care, and putting patients at the heart of all they do.
“Patient safety remains our priority, and we will continue to work closely with the trust on the areas for improvement identified in the CQC’s report.”
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill said: “I am absolutely thrilled for all the incredible staff at our West Suffolk Hospital for securing an ‘outstanding’ CQC inspection, the highest clinical rating and one of the seven top rated general hospitals in the country.
“Over the last three years, I have seen the hospital develop, under the exceptional leadership of Dr Stephen Dunn and his senior team, into an excellent NHS service at the heart of our community and a centre for excellence.
“The tremendous amounts of hard work and the dedication of staff to quality patient care which I witness on regular visits to the hospital, are rightly reflected in the CQC’s conclusions.
“My congratulations to West Suffolk Hospital on this outstanding achievement.”
To view the full inspection report, visit www.cqc.org.uk