Hospital trust rated among best in England

Staff at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.
Staff at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.

Alnwick Infirmary has been rated as good by the regulator as part of an inspection which found Northumbria to be one of the best hospital trusts in England.

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has found Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which serves Northumberland and North Tyneside, to be outstanding after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in November.

It is the fourth trust to earn an outstanding rating under the CQC’s programme of comprehensive inspections and earned the top rating in respect of being caring, effective, responsive and well-led.

There were many factors that contributed to this, including inspirational leadership and strong clinical engagement; strong integration of all services; compassionate care by staff; and the number of consultants being higher than average.

The report, released today, did also identify some areas for improvement, for example, in relation to maternity services.

The Trust has been asked to ensure its clinical strategy meets recommendations from NHS England’s national maternity review, as well as making improvements to the storage of emergency drugs and improving the entrance and exit to the new Birthing Centre, at Cramlington.

However, when visiting maternity services, inspectors observed staff being ‘supportive and respectful’, offering women emotional support and making sure they were fully involved in their care.

The CQC’s maternity experience survey for 2015 also placed Northumbria Healthcare in the top 10 hospital trusts in England.

The Trust’s four main hospitals – Northumbria Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington, which opened in June 2015; North Tyneside General Hospital; Wansbeck General Hospital; and Hexham General Hospital – were all rated outstanding, while Berwick and Alnwick Infirmaries were good. The Trust’s community services were also rated outstanding.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “We found Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust to be one of the best hospital trusts in England.

“It is very rare indeed that the community children and young people’s service should be rated outstanding in all of its domains. I congratulate the Trust for this achievement.

“The most remarkable finding to me was the consistency of the outstanding ratings across all four hospital locations and across community services.

“To achieve this across so many sites is truly remarkable and is a first. It demonstrates that it is possible to achieve excellence even when services are widely dispersed geographically.”

Leaders at the Trust have paid tribute to the thousands of dedicated NHS staff delivering care across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

David Evans, Northumbria Healthcare chief executive, said: “We are immensely proud to receive such positive recognition from the CQC after such a landmark year for Northumbria. On behalf of the Trust board, I would like to thank each and every member of staff for the commitment they show, every single day, to provide high-quality patient care.

“Our teams look after people when they are often at their most vulnerable, whether that is coming into hospital, coping with an ongoing health problem or learning to live with an unexpected illness.

“The care and compassion shown by our workforce touches people’s lives on a daily basis and every employee of Northumbria Healthcare should be rightfully proud of the great value they bring to our local communities and the people we serve.

“As always, we must now look to the future so that we can continue to build on our successes to date and push the boundaries of excellence in everything we do.

“We will continue to listen to our staff, patients and the public so that we can improve the quality of care we provide even further.”

The Trust’s chairman, Alan Richardson, added: “Today’s CQC report is fantastic news for our staff, patients and everyone living across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

“While this is an excellent report, it is important that we are not complacent as we know there will always be things that we can do better.”

Northumbria Healthcare provides services for half-a-million people from Berwick in the north, to Haltwhistle in the west and down to Whitley Bay in North Tyneside.

More than 9,500 dedicated staff provide care for patients across 11 hospital sites, multiple community venues and during home visits over a 2,500-square-mile footprint.