Hinchingbrooke Hospital out of special measures

Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon Image copyright PA
Image caption Hinchingbrooke's medical care, surgery and end-of-life care were all rated 'good' by CQC inspectors

The first NHS hospital to be privately run has been rated "good" after nearly two years in special measures - but needs to improve its emergency care.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital was placed in special measures in September 2014 when it was run by Circle Health. It returned to NHS control in April 2015.

A Care Quality Commission inspection in May found "significant improvements".

Hospital chairman Alan Burns said the result was "a terrific vote of confidence in our staff".

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Image caption The hospital chairman blamed a 'huge surge' in patients and national staff shortages for A&E receiving a 'requires improvement' rating

The commission found "outstanding practice at the trust", including its work with end-of-life care for patients at a local prison and the employment of an Admiral Nurse to support people with dementia.

Inspectors also said staff "were caring and compassionate towards patients" and they praised the hospital's leadership.

But Hinchingbrooke's accident and emergency department was criticised.

The A&E "is as good as any around" but it was built for 7,000 patients and is now treating "close to 50,000 patients this year", according to Mr Burns.

Image copyright Andy Parrett/Geograph
Image caption Mr Burns said he believes A&E staff 'have done remarkably well shifting the department from inadequate to needs to improvement'

A&E 'requires improvement'

The CQC report found Hinchingbrooke's emergency department:

  • Must provide sufficient numbers of qualified and experienced medical staff on duty
  • Left patients waiting longer than average to be seen
  • Must improve infection control
  • Needs to triage patients arriving by ambulance in a timely manner

The hospital chairman said: "[Demand] has gone up 8% this year and we have two-and-a-half consultants on our books, compared to the six we should have."

He blamed a nationwide shortage of clinical staff and added "the problems here are problems in every A&E department in the country".

CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals Edward Baker said: "The trust leadership knows what it must do now to ensure further positive change takes place."

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