Hinchingbrooke Hospital to remain in special measures

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon Image copyright PA
Image caption Work to help patients with dementia was one of the areas singled out for praise in the report

The first NHS hospital to be privately run will remain in special measures after inspectors said emergency services were still "inadequate".

Hinchingbrooke Hospital was placed in special measures in September 2014 when it was run by Circle Health, who handed control back to the NHS last April.

The Care Quality Commission report says some improvements have been made, but concerns remain over patient safety.

The hospital said its progress had been recognised but there was "more to do".

CQC inspectors visited the hospital, which is near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, in October and November and found a service "in a transition period following structural management changes".

Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, said the inspection "highlighted a number of concerns" about how Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust "manages and monitors risk in a number of areas".

Read more on this and other stories from Cambridgeshire

"There were also concerns regarding the A&E department including infection control practices," Sir Mike said.

"Urgent and emergency services are rated as 'inadequate' overall."

'Requires improvement'

The CQC highlighted areas where the trust must improve, including:

  • All staff must report clinical incidents and near-misses and make sure they are investigated
  • Ensuring all staff responsible for supporting patient feeding have adequate training
  • An immediate review of the environment and provision of children's services
  • In A&E, the time to receive treatment from a clinician must improve

Sir Mike said inspectors also saw a number of areas of good and outstanding practice, including the chaplaincy service, "which remains excellent and supportive to patients, their families and carers".

He also praised work to help patients with dementia.

'Quietly confident'

Alan Burns, who took over as chairman of the hospital trust in April, said he did not "dispute anything the inspectors say".

"We certainly recognise the hospital the inspectors are describing. We recognise how well the staff have done in turning this hospital around and we recognise how much more we have to do," he said.

The hospital has been provided with an "improvement director" as a result of being placed in special measures, and Mr Burns said "extra support from the trust development authority" was "valued".

Image copyright Andy Parrett/Geograph
Image caption The hospital's A&E department was criticised but its chaplaincy service praised

The CQC said the trust would continue to be monitored and more inspections would take place, probably in May or June.

"Much of the hospital is already [rated] 'good'… but I am quietly confident that come the re-inspection... we will certainly be in a position to move out of special measures," Mr Burns said.

"I am pretty confident that the staff will have continued the journey and the changes they've made, and we'll be at 'good'."

Ben Gummer, Minister for care quality, said it was "encouraging" that progress had been made in the "leadership and working culture" across the hospital.

"However, I am disappointed that concerns remain on aspects of patient safety," he said.

"It is now vital the trust works closely with regulators to put in place the necessary improvements."

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