Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 6 7

For the first time, trusts and primary care trusts have made the jump from zero to three stars.

Three of the 14 acute trusts zero-rated in last year's league tables were top-rated this year, and two PCTs have made the leap.

The newly merged Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital trust, University Hospitals of Leicester trust and South Manchester University Hospitals trust have all cast off the mantle of failing trust to win three stars.

Milton Keynes and Vale of Aylesbury PCTs have also improved from zero to three.

Shrewsbury and Telford acting chief executive Trish Mason praised staff for a 'tremendous' effort while South Manchester chief executive Peter Morris was delighted with his trust's 'truly remarkable' triple-star win.

Nine of last year's zero-rated acute trusts have gained stars, with Isle of Wight Healthcare trust, Milton Keynes General Hospital trust and United Bristol Healthcare trust all improving.

Ms Mason attributed success to tighter financial planning, better internal communications and family-friendly policies - including annualised hours and childcare facilities.

South Manchester, which was£7m in the red in April 2003, is on course to break even by April 2005 - following a stringent cost-cutting exercise.

Mr Morris, who joined in June 2002, launched more than 100 recovery initiatives which have resulted in better booking systems, lower sickness levels, higher staff retention, and a 'radical reduction' in bank and agency nurses, which have all helped cut costs.

This week's three-star status has spurred University Hospitals Leicester trust to aim for foundation status as soon as possible.

The trust achieved eight of the nine key targets this year. 'For us to bounce back so positively from last year's zero rating is a tribute to all our staff, ' commented chief executive Dr Peter Reading.

There are eight fewer zerostarred PCTs this year, and 10 PCTs improved from no stars to two.

South Manchester PCT was one that gained two stars after improving access to GPs, hitting flu immunisation targets, producing better financial management, and achieving the Improving Working Lives standard.

Hinckley and Bosworth PCT in Leicestershire is another former zero star PCT that has gained two stars.

Hinckley and Bosworth director of finance Martin Maynes said: 'The reason we failed in the first year was down to particular problems at our acute provider. They identified some long waits at the end of the year. But we haven't failed on any key targets this year.'

Ambulance trusts showed an overall improvement, with twothirds rated at two or three stars.

Improvers included Essex Ambulance Service and Dorset Ambulance trusts, which climbed from zero to two stars, and Hereford and Worcester Ambulance Service and Isle of Wight Healthcare trusts, which climbed from one to three stars.

Seven trusts lost a star.

Good news: Good Hope Hospital trust gains a star

The only trust with franchised senior management has gained a star, following the appointment of chief executive Anne Heast.

She was appointed at Good Hope Hospital trust by healthcare consultancy Secta last September after the trust was stripped of its three-star status in 2002 following an investigation into waiting-list mis-management.

According to Ms Heast the fact that the trust has been franchised 'has made a great difference' in being able to achieve its star.

Ms Heast said the trust had since put a number of systems in place that ensured staff understood the importance of targets.

She said that it had also benefited from being able to recruit a strong executive team and an accident and emergency clinical leadership team.

And she said her aim was to achieve one star in her first year, but admitted that there was 'a long way to go'before the trust gained three-star status or became a foundation trust.