Plaudits for effort to improve standards at Conquest

Members of a health watchdog have praised the efforts of the hospital trust that runs the Conquest to pull themselves out of special measures.

The Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), which has been closely monitoring progress at the Conquest and Eastbourne District General Hospital, considered reports by East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) at its meeting last Thursday.

The trust was placed into special measures in 2015 following ‘inadequate’ ratings for the quality of care by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Inspectors returned to the two hospitals earlier this year and found nearly all services they reviewed to be ‘good ‘ or ‘outstanding’.

Speaking at Thursday’s HOSC meeting, ESHT Chief Executive Dr Adrian Bull, told members: “This represents a significant accolade for the work that has taken place across the organisation.”

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He said the trust was not seeking to satisfy the CQC, but to provide the best possible care for its patients. However, the trust will be working towards an ‘outstanding’ rating by 2020.

The CQC rating for the trust remains ‘requires improvement’ because the inspection was limited to urgent and emergency care, medical care, surgery and maternity at theConquest Hospital, and outpatients at Eastbourne District General Hospital (EDGH). The leadership of the trust was also reviewed.

Dr Bull added: “I am absolutely confident that had the inspectors gone to the other areas, they would have rated us ‘good’ wherever they went. We have asked the CQC to come back as soon as possible to inspect these areas to further improve our rating.”

The trust remains in special measures for finance due to significant financial challenges it continues to face, but expects to be rated ‘good’ for quality of care when inspections are carried out on the remaining services.

While welcoming the improvement in the quality of care, members of HOSC questioned how the trust felt it could get itself out of special measures for finance.

Dr Bull said: “The approach we are taking to addressing the financial position is one which is resolutely focussed on doing that in a sensible way over a period of time. It will be sustainable and achieved by driving out costs of poor quality care and by more effective targeting of care.”

Welcoming the report and the improvements made, the committee requested an action plan from ESHT to allow them to continue to monitor progress.

Following the meeting, chairman Cllr Colin Belsey said:  “I would like to commend the trust on their hard work to make the necessary improvements. While I acknowledge there is still some way to go, this is a big step in the right direction towards a ‘good’ rating.

“We will continue to work closely with the trust and monitor the progress made to ensure that East Sussex residents have access to the best possible care.”

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