Britain’s busiest hospital group has been lifted out of special measures for quality after healthcare regulators rated the majority of its services as ‘good’.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found staff and services at Barts Health NHS Trust to be caring, effective and well-led following a major inspection of three hospitals last autumn.
Four years after putting the trust into special measures for quality, the regulator recommended lifting the sanction, and this was accepted by NHS Improvement, the oversight body for health providers.
Barts Health remains in special measures for financial reasons and is still rated as ‘requires improvement’ for quality, with further CQC reports expected next month on inspections into three specific services, including maternity services at Newham which were rated ‘inadequate’ and where remedial action has already been taken.
Nevertheless, in the report the CQC noted improvements across the board at The Royal London, Whipps Cross and Newham Hospitals, together with improvements in the leadership, governance and culture of the trust as a whole.
Alwen Williams, chief executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, said the decision represented a “significant step forward”.
“We are grateful for the support our regulators have given us in recent years,” she said.
“We will continue to address areas where there is further work to be done, and now look forward to charting our own course to becoming a high-performing group of hospitals, renowned for excellence and innovation, and providing safe and compassionate care to the people of east London and beyond.”
The findings means that two-thirds of all the core service areas ratings at Barts Health are now officially rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
This includes the group’s specialist heart and cancer services at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which were rated ‘good’ in all areas, with ‘outstanding’ leadership, in a previous inspection.
Professor Edward Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said the trust had made “real, consistent progress”.
He added: “Credit must go to the leadership team and to the commitment and hard work of all the staff. There has been substantial improvement in the quality of services at the trust and I am happy to recommend that it is removed from special measures.”
NHS Improvement’s executive medical director and chief operating officer, Dr Kathy McLean, went on to recognise “the unwavering commitment of staff and leaders” and said teams should be “very proud” of the achievement.
“This is fantastic news for the trust and its patients and I am so pleased that the trust’s journey of improvement has resulted in this positive outcome.
“However, there is still work to do in some areas to ensure that patient services are the very best they can be. We will continue to support the trust as it seeks to build on the excellent progress it has made and ensure that further improvements recommended in the Care Quality Commission report are satisfied and sustained.”