• NHS Improvement approves recommendation to take Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust out of special measures 
  • Leadership across the trust now rated “good” 
  • Inspectors found improvements across “majority of core services”

A Midlands hospital trust has come out of special measures, two years after the Care Quality Commission uncovered “serious” problems with the care provided.

Inspectors visited Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust’s core services between February and March this year and found “further improvements had taken place and previous improvements maintained”.

The trust has been rated “requires improvement” overall, but it was rated “good” in the caring and well-led categories. The effective, safe and responsive areas remain rated as “requires improvement”.

The trust was placed in special measures in April 2017 after the CQC rated it “inadequate” amid concerns over the safety of care provided and leadership.

At the time, the CQC found “insufficient staffing levels” and “no effective processes” to ensure patients who visited accident and emergency were safe to wait up to two hours to see a clinician.

The trust’s “inadequate” rating was upgraded to “requires improvement” 10 months later, in February 2018. However, it remained in special measures as the CQC felt it would “continue to benefit from the external support”.

Now, the CQC has recommended the trust be removed from special measures, which NHS Improvement has accepted.

In the most recent inspection, the CQC managers now had “the right skills and abilities” while there was a “mix of experience within the executive directors”.

Inspectors added there were improvements in “the majority of core services inspected”, including in urgent and emergency services, although these are rated as ”requires improvement” overall. 

The trust has been given a list of recommendations, including making sure patients in urgent and emergency services are assessed “in a timely manner in line with national standards”.

Staff must also ensure nursing risk assessments and safety checklists are completed, and children and their families should not wait “in an adult environment” before they are seen by a clinician.

Inspectors said they also found examples of outstanding practice at the trust, particularly in the maternity service. Here, women were supported to manage their own health, care and wellbeing.

The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker said: “Our inspectors found a dedicated staff at the trust who had worked hard to ensure improvements were made and they witnessed aspects of outstanding care in the maternity service.

“In diagnostic imaging, significant improvements had been achieved resulting in considerable reduction to the reporting backlog found at the last inspection. This meant results were now available in a timely way.

“However, there is still work to be done in ensuring people always receive the treatment and care they should be able to expect.”

Update: This article was updated at 09:45 on 23 May to correct the rating for effective to “requires improvement”. An earlier version of this article stated the trust had been rated “good” for effective.