Brighton and Sussex NHS trust stays in special measures

Image source, Eddie Mitchell
Image caption,
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust was last year rated inadequate and put in special measures

An NHS trust is to remain in special measures despite an improvement in staffing levels contributing towards a better rating from inspectors.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust's Care Quality Commission rating has been revised from "inadequate" to "requires improvement".

The CQC praised a new self-rostering approach to medical cover in the Royal Sussex County Hospital's A&E unit.

There was also increased consultant cover at the Princess Royal Hospital.

However, the CQC said it was recommending the trust should remain in special measures "for a further period".

Inspectors found "significant improvements in services" after visiting both hospitals in Brighton and Haywards Heath.

Dr George Findley, medical director of the trust said: "Nobody wants to be working in a hospital that's rated as inadequate, it's not good for staff, not good for patients. People have worked tremendously hard over the past year to make improvements.

"We've still got lots more to do, but it's great to see signs of improvement, it's something we can really build on."

Image source, Paul Gillett / Geograph
Image caption,
Consultant cover has increased at the Princess Royal Hospital, the CQC said

Immediately prior to the inspection, management responsibility for the trust had passed to the board of Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Staffing improvements also included better junior doctor cover in the emergency department of the Royal Sussex, although staffing levels at both hospitals still remained a concern.

Improvements in dignity and privacy within outpatients at the Royal Sussex, and a well developed programme of care for dementia patients at the Princess Royal, were also praised.

'Real improvements'

Inspectors told the trust it must ensure patients' dignity and privacy is respected in A&E at the Royal Sussex.

The trust was also told to review the paediatric service in the A&E unit at the Princess Royal and ensure there are enough staff to safely meet children and young people's needs.

Prof Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said he hoped the recent changes in senior management would help the trust deal with the "underlying problems found in the past".

"I am pleased to note that we have already found real improvements have been made since our last inspection," he said.

"However there still remains an extensive programme of change to be delivered and embedded."

Analysis: Mark Norman, BBC South East health correspondent

The Care Quality Commission has been very keen to point out the work the staff (as opposed to the board) have done to improve things at the trust.

Immediately prior to the inspection in April managers from the Western Sussex Hospitals trust had taken over Brighton and Haywards Heath. In other words they had not had time to influence improvements.

The chief inspector made a point that "all those involved (meaning the staff)... should be given credit".

The lack of consistent leadership will have slowed the pace of change and improvement and that is highlighted by the fact that there are still a huge number of issues for that new management team to address.

There will now be high expectations of the new chief executive and her management team to address those issues and build on the improvements already seen.

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