CQC Inspection Results for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

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Trust recognised as ‘good’ for caring as long term improvement journey continues

Care, commitment and the dedication of hardworking staff have led to West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust more than doubling the number of ‘good’ ratings since its first Care Quality Commission inspection in 2015.

The trust, which manages Watford General Hospital, Hemel Hempstead Hospital and St Albans City Hospital, now has 45 ‘good’ ratings compared with 20 in 2015 showing how dramatically the balance has tipped towards improvement.

Last autumn’s partial inspection covered urgent and emergency care, medical care, surgery and maternity at Watford General Hospital. The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at St Albans City Hospital and the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Hemel Hempstead Hospital were also inspected.

Inspectors noted that staff cared for patients with “compassion, kindness and respect” and were quick to commend examples of outstanding practice in the children’s emergency department, medical care and maternity at Watford General Hospital.

Bereavement care and support, multidisciplinary working in the dementia and stroke units and the ISeeU initiative in the maternity department (which enables mothers to stay connected to their newborns receiving care in the neonatal intensive care unit) were all praised.

The biggest uplift was in the emergency department (ED) at Watford General Hospital which has improved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’. And its assessment against the ‘well led’ domain has risen significantly by two ratings to ‘good’. The inspectors noted a “strong, supportive and visible leadership” reflecting the determined efforts of staff to make changes. They also commented on “an improvement in culture”.

In spite of a lower rating in the ‘safety’ domain for maternity, overall the picture at Watford General is extremely positive with a trend of continuous improvement and strengthening of services since 2015.

Feedback for the MIU at St Albans City Hospital has led to an ‘inadequate’ rating for this service and this has resulted in an overall ‘inadequate’ rating for St Albans City Hospital. The trust acted immediately to rectify issues raised by inspectors and has implemented an action plan for further improvements. The Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Hemel Hempstead Hospital was rated ‘requires improvement’ but inspectors observed “excellent multidisciplinary working” and the compassion of staff.

Surgery and outpatient services at St Albans are rated ‘good’ and these services care for the majority of patients who visit the hospital. Surgical staff were commended for “creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care would flourish”.

Trust chair Professor Steve Barnett said: “We have achieved these positive results in spite of the challenges raised by operating in buildings across three sites that are past their best. I’m immensely proud of the dedication of our staff who continue to deliver the very best care for our patients in a far from ideal environment. I’m delighted that the funding is almost within reach to help us make progress with our redevelopment plans which are gathering pace. The strength of West Herts lies in its people and on my last day as trust chair, I can confidently say that I’m leaving the trust in safe hands and that a bright future beckons for staff and patients.”

Acting chief executive Helen Brown said: “I’m delighted that the inspectors have recognised the work of our hard working and compassionate staff. Congratulations to staff in our children and young people’s service at Watford, and the surgery team at St Albans for achieving ‘good’ for all aspects of their services. And praise must go to the emergency department team at Watford for jumping up two ratings to achieve ‘good’ for leadership. This is remarkable given the pressures they work under.

“I fully recognise that our improvement journey has a long path. Naturally, we’re hugely disappointed with the ratings for our Minor Injuries Unit and the Urgent Treatment Centre and our teams are working hard to make improvements. Local residents should still feel confident that they will receive appropriate care from the two services.”

Read the full report here

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