East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust is to exit special measures for quality, NHS Improvement announced today. 

It will, however, stay in special measures for finance.

The trust was placed in special measures in August 2014 after a Care Quality Commission inspection in March of that year highlighted concerns and rated it “inadequate”.

Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, recommended in December 2016 that the trust should exit quality special measures after improvements, but said the final decision would be made by NHS Improvement in February. The trust has been rated “requires improvement” overall since earlier last year.

NHS Improvement said today that the decision to take East Kent out of quality special measures was delayed “due to concerns about the financial performance of the trust”.

It said that whilst it recognises the progress made by the trust to improve the quality of services it provides and has “accepted the chief inspector’s recommendation that this represents sufficient improvement for the trust to exit quality special measures”, the trust will remain in special measures with regard to finance.

East Kent is currently not meeting its agreed savings plans and is forecast to finish 2016-17 in deficit.

NHS Improvement would continue to work with the trust to “improve and ensure the sustainability of their financial position”, the spokesman said.

Matthew Kershaw, the trust’s chief executive, said: “I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of our staff, who have driven these improvements for patients over the last two years, has been recognised.

“We have made further improvements since the inspection and have plans to continue to reduce delays for patients, recruit staff and make further progress to improve services such as maternity and end of life care.

“Hand in hand with these quality improvements, we have significantly reduced our financial deficit from £35m in 2015-16 to a forecast £24m deficit this year.

“We have reduced agency spend by 11 per cent, improved our financial position every quarter since April 2015 and are on track to deliver a much reduced deficit this year.”