Medway NHS Foundation Trust out of special measures after four years

Media caption,
Moment staff at Medway NHS Foundation Trust were told it had come out of special measures

A hospital trust has been taken out of special measures after being in it for nearly four years - longer than any other hospital in England.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust has made "substantial improvements", the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.

Medway Maritime was one of 11 hospitals branded "inadequate" after Sir Bruce Keogh's review of hospitals in 2013.

Previous inspections had highlighted concerns over patient safety, organisation and governance.

BBC South East health correspondent Mark Norman said the hospital had spent 41 months in special measures, rather than the 12 months originally expected.

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt said: "Some of the problems at Medway were deeply entrenched - which makes the achievement all the greater."

Chief inspector of hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, checked the trust over five days at the end of last year.

In his inspection report, he said: "There is no doubt that substantial improvements have been made. The leadership team is now fully established and there is a strong sense of forward momentum."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Prof Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals

As part of addressing its problems, the hospital took up a successful buddying arrangement with Guys' and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, and is now "good" for effectiveness, care and leadership.

It still "requires improvement" for safety and responsiveness.

CQC Inspection summary

What's good:

  • Management in the emergency department
  • Incident reporting culture
  • Mortality rates
  • Support for vulnerable patients

Need improving:

  • Staffing levels in emergency care and maternity
  • Training, annual appraisals, fire safety
  • Cleanliness in clinical area
  • Checks and maintenance of emergency equipment

Lesley Dwyer, chief executive of the trust, said: "I am so pleased the improvements we are all so proud of have been recognised. This is a great tribute to our dedicated staff and the fantastic job they do day in, day out.

"We acknowledge there is, of course, more to do. We have every reason to believe that we can build on this momentum and continue to improve."

Media caption,
Chief executive Lesley Dwyer said there would be "continuous improvement"

Analysis: Mark Norman, BBC South East health correspondent

When the hospital's chief executive stood up in front of a packed staff canteen and said the words "out of special measures" there were cheers, there was relief and even a few tears of joy.

Four and a half thousand people work for the trust; one of their senior staff told me they have endured four years of being told they were no good at their job.

Yes, the Care Quality Commission has some ongoing concerns, but when I first interviewed Lesley Dwyer almost two years ago she said she thought her biggest difficulty would be engaging the staff and reigniting a sense of believe in them.

She would appear to have done that. The CQC highlighted the "commitments and hard work of the staff" in achieving this turnaround.

There were some elements of "outstanding" practice at the trust, the inspection noted.

The neonatal unit's breast-feeding at discharge rate has soared while a new bereavement suite for families experiencing a still birth, critical care services and the treatment of patients experiencing broken hips were all highly praised.

The CQC is to return to check further improvements have been made.

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