A hospital trust has been praised by a health watchdog for its "very good improvement" after an inspection.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hartlepool and North Tees hospitals, has been rated as 'good' overall following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
The rating is an improvement from 'requires improvement', which the trust was rated as following the previous inspection.
Ellen Armistead, deputy chief inspector of Hospitals for the North, said: “Since our last inspection at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, in July 2015, the rating for the trust has improved from requires improvement to good.
"This represents very good progress, and the trust are to be congratulated for their dedication and hard work.
“Inspectors observed outstanding examples of care. Staff showed determination and creativity to overcome obstacles to delivering care for vulnerable people and those with additional needs.
"We witnessed medical professionals going above and beyond the call of duty.
“At trust board level the executive team had the experience, capability and integrity to ensure that strategy could be delivered and risks to performance addressed.
"They were knowledgeable about issues and priorities for the quality and sustainability of services, understood the challenges and were taking action to address them.
“The trust has demonstrated that it can address areas that need improvement.
"It is clear the trust has the vision and leadership to sustain its improvement and I look forward to seeing further progress at the next inspection.”
A team of inspectors inspected urgent and emergency care, medical care and maternity care at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and University Hospital of North Tees during November 2017.
The rating for safety stayed the same.
It was rated ias good because incidents were investigated and managed appropriately and inspectors saw evidence of learning following incidents.
There were robust systems in place to manage staffing shortfalls which helped maintain safe patient care, while nurse documentation had been radically changed since the last inspection, to better assess and plan care.
The rating for effectiveness improved from requires improvement to good.
There was evidence of good multidisciplinary working, seven day services and some health promotion, including access to drug and alcohol dependency support services.
Pain was reviewed effectively, according to inspectors, with mechanisms in place to ensure that patients did not remain in pain.
Caring stayed the same at good, as did responsiveness.
In respect of well-led, the overall rating improved to good.
Inspectors said they could see that leaders at every level were visible and approachable, while morale across services was generally good and staff described good teamwork across the wards.
There were processes to support staff and promote their positive well-being.
At trust level, inspectors found that there was low compliance in some mandatory training modules in some of the services inspected, and they also noted there were risks in the emergency department to patients with mental health needs.
At both hospital sites, the trust’s overall rating improved from requires Improvement to good.
At the University Hospital of Hartlepool, the rating of services improved overall because maternity services had improved, but they were said to be challenges, with a need for better access times to antenatal services.