Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust has become the first trust to come out of special measures after what the health secretary described as a “remarkable turnaround”.
The trust was one of 11 to be put into special measures last summer following NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of trusts with persistently high mortality rates.
Chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards recommended Monitor remove the Essex trust from special measures after a Care Quality Commission inspection in March found “significant improvements”.
In a statement on Monday Monitor confirmed it had accepted Sir Mike’s advice. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament Basildon’s turnaround was “remarkable” and proof putting the trust into special measures had been the “right decision”.
A trust must receive at least a “requires improvement” rating from the CQC to come out of special measures.
Basildon was rated good overall by the regulator, although it said the safety of services at the trust continued to “require improvement”. The maternity unit was rated “outstanding” but surgery was judged to require improvement.
Sir Mike said the trust could not afford to be “complacent” but the CQC had “confidence in the trust’s leadership to continue to work to make further changes for the good of its patients”.
Trust chief executive Clare Panniker was appointed in September 2012. She replaced Alan Whittle who led the trust for more than nine years.
Adam Cayley, regional director for Monitor, who was also the special measures improvement director for the trust, said coming out of special measures was “not the end of the story” and Monitor would be working with the trust to ensure improvements were maintained.
The trust is in breach of its foundation trust licence for failing to consistently achieve the four hour accident and emergency target and has agreed with Monitor it will finish 2014-15 in deficit for the second year running.
Ms Panniker told HSJ the trust did not want to risk quality improvements and planned to return to a balanced financial position gradually.
She said the trust had found the “buddying” arrangement with Royal Free London Foundation Trust, set up as part of the special measures support, very valuable and planned to continue it on a voluntary basis at least into next year.
She added: “Basildon had for a while been a bit insular and this gave us a good opportunity to share practice with a high performing organisation.”
The CQC has now inspected all 11 of the Keogh special measures trusts and expects to publish the reports by mid July.