PERFORMANCE: United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has been taken out of special measures.

The NHS Trust Development Authority took the decision after the Care Quality Commission found that the provider had improved in areas including accident and emergency, surgery and outpatient services.

The trust, which runs four hospitals in the county, was put into special measures in 2013 following a review into trusts with persistently high mortality rates by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards had previously said that despite improvements seen during a CQC inspection last April, the trust needed to remain in the regime.

However, United Lincolnshire Hospitals has now become first trust to leave special measures since five trusts were removed last July.

While the trust was rated “requires improvement” overall, the CQC’s latest inspection found key improvements made to individual services.

The trust was rated “good” on whether services were effective, well led and caring. It was rated “requires improvement” on whether services were safe and responsive.

The ratings of many services have been changed from “requires improvement” in the previous inspection to “good”, including A&E services at Pilgrim Hospital and Grantham and District Hospital.

Hospital, surgery and outpatient services at the trust’s County Louth Hospital site have changed from “requires improvement” to “good”.

However, the trust been told that it must take action to ensure that there are sufficient “qualified and experienced” staff to care for patients’ needs.

The CQC also told it to ensure a trust-wide system is in place to monitor patients awaiting outpatient appointments.

Governance procedures in County Louth Hospital’s surgical services and outpatient department needed to be “embedded”, it added.

Trust chief executive Jane Lewington said: “I am always so proud of our staff’s dedication and commitment to delivering compassionate and high quality care, but today I am beyond proud.” 

“I cannot overstate the massive progress we have made as a trust over the last 20 months. The CQC inspectors recognised the continuing improvements we’ve made to the quality and safety of our care.  The CQC have said quite clearly that the trust has taken ‘significant action’ since the last inspection in 2014 and made a ‘substantial’ number of improvements. Patients can be confident in our staff and in our services.”

Sir Mike said: “This trust has worked hard to achieve the level of change we witnessed in its services.

“Our inspectors found many improvements had been made and a number of areas of good practice, including the increased engagement between the trust board and medical staff.

“This is why I have recommended that the trust is now brought out of special measures.

“There are however areas where the trust still needs to make improvements and its leadership knows what it must now do to ensure further change takes place and existing improvements are maintained.”