Hospital bosses have been told they must do better after inspectors gave the organisation a disappointing rating.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hartlepool and North Tees hospitals, was rated as Requires Improvement overall after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC says the trust was rated Good for services being safe, caring and responsive. But it was rated as Requires Improvement under the headings of service effectiveness and well-led care.
Both hospital sites at Hartlepool and Stockton were rated as Requiring Improvement overall.
But the trust’s services provided in the wider community and Hartlepool’s One Life Centre Minor Injuries Unit were rated Good.
Trust leaders said it has already taken action to address concerns raised by inspectors and says its rating will improve.
People are entitled to receive treatment and care in services which are consistently safe, effective, caring and responsive to their needsProfessor Sir Mike Richards, CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals
The CQC said it found some areas of good and outstanding working and praised staff for going the extra mile to support people.
Staff reported a strong culture of learning and improvement, and training and development.
Inspectors found staff were caring and compassionate, and treated people with dignity and respect.
But the CQC highlighted several concerns including staff shortages on some wards and issues around managing medicines.
On the Holdforth Unit at Hartlepool hospital, which provides rehabilitation to patients before going home, the CQC found records were not always signed by staff to show when medicines had been administered.
And on some wards, inspectors found that medicines were not always being stored at the correct temperature.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “We found that the trust had a clear strategy in place, focused on integrating services and delivering care for patients closer to home.
“However, we also saw services where more needed to be done to make sure that care and treatment consistently met the required standard.
“People are entitled to receive treatment and care in services which are consistently safe, effective, caring and responsive to their needs.”
The CQC has worked closely with regulators Monitor and other stakeholders since the inspection.
Prof Richards added: “The trust leadership knows what it needs to do to bring about improvement and our inspectors will return at a later date to check on what progress has been made.” Out of the 85 individual ratings received by the trust, 65 were rated as good.
Trust chief executive Alan Foster said: “The inspectors highlighted many areas of good practice and we’re delighted they reflected this in their report.
“We were very open with the inspectors about areas which we thought could be improved and we have already taken action to address these areas.”
The CQC inspection of all the trust’s services was carried out over four days last July.
Areas where the trust performed well included:
•Care was delivered according to best practice guidelines, and there was strong multidisciplinary team working throughout the trust;
•Development of advanced nurse practitioners to help with difficulties in recruiting junior doctors;
•A surgery training suite so staff can practice and develop their skills in a safe environment;
•The critical care team’s impressive and sensitive approach to raising the issue of tissue and organ donation with patients and relatives;
•Work with Hartlepool Borough Council to improve healthcare for people with learning disabilities.
Areas where the trust needed to improve included:
•Ensure there are always enough suitably qualified staff to deliver safe and timely care;
•It must ensure staff follow policies and procedures for managing and storing medicines;
•Risk assessments must be documented along with personal care and support needs and evidence capacity assessments have been carried out where required;
•It must ensure that infection control procedures are followed for hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment;
•Resuscitation and emergency equipment must be checked every day in line with trust guidelines.
Full reports including ratings for all the trust’s care services are published today on the CQC’s website at http://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/RVW
Boss pays tribute to staff’s response
Chief executive Alan Foster said: “Naturally we are disappointed with the rating. Our staff work hard to provide the best care possible and it is disappointing for them to receive this rating.
“Ratings systems for NHS organisations have changed many times over the years and, quite rightly, it is tougher to meet the standards.
“The inspectors rated the University Hospital of Hartlepool good for safe, caring and responsive and requiring improvement for effectiveness and well-led care.
“The way the rating system works is that two or more requiring improvements out of five results in a rating of requiring improvement. “However it’s good for staff, patients and the public to know that three out of the five areas were rated as good.
The inspectors rated the University Hospital of North Tees good for caring and responsive services but as requiring improvement for safe, effective and well-led services.
“Again we were very open with the inspectors before, during and after the visit about areas we thought could be improved and we have already taken action to address these areas.
“We would like to pay tribute to staff for their response to the inspection.
“While it was a daunting experience for some, they were well prepared and enthusiastic about showing the inspectors the fantastic work they do.
“We always said that, whatever the outcome, the visit itself was a positive experience.
“We are working hard with the aim that, should the services be visited again, the trust’s overall rating will improve.”
Councillor Carl Richardson, deputy leader of Hartlepool Borough Council said: “The council is committed to working with all the relevant organisations to champion the delivery of high quality hospital and community-based health services in Hartlepool and we remain absolutely determined to do everything possible to press the Trust to bring services back to the town.
“We are currently working with partner organisations including the Trust and consulting the public to produce a health and social care plan for Hartlepool.
“We are pleased that the inspectors found some areas of good and outstanding practice across the Trust, including at the One Life Centre, but we are concerned about the areas where improvements in the Trust are required.
“We are also very clear that it remains of the utmost importance that all the relevant organisations work together to make sure the people of Hartlepool receive the highest quality health care services.”