• United Hospitals Lincolnshire Trust’s overall rating improves but it remains in special measures
  • Leaders are “consumed by operational issues” which hampered quality improvement, regulator finds
  • Pilgrim Hospital is rated inadequate with concerns noted about emergency care and young people’s care

Executives at an NHS trust have told the Care Quality Commission they are ”consumed by operational issues” with the regulator recommeding it remain in special measures.

The CQC said the challenges facing senior leaders at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust meant they had little capacity to deliver improvements at the pace needed.

Inspectors said there had been “much progress” at the trust with the overall rating being raised from inadequate to requires improvement.

But the CQC said the trust should remain in special measures so “it can receive the support it needs to make further improvements”.

The report said: ”There was a lack of capacity amongst the executive directors. Executive team members faced significant challenges because they were drawn into operational difficulties within the organisation. Leaders at different levels told us they were consumed by operational issues as opposed to being able to step back and work on the strategic issues in the organisation.

“This was hampering the ability to work at pace with regards to quality improvement. The pace of change since our last inspection had been slow.”

The inspection included visits to Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital, County Hospital Louth and Grantham and District Hospital between February and April this year.

The regulator found “a number of concerns” at the Pilgrim Hospital’s emergency department and the children and young people’s service, where executive director oversight was “insufficient”.

The hospital in Boston is still rated as ‘inadequate’ overall, despite improvements in the “overall level of oversight of risk”.

ULHT chief executive Jan Sobieraj said: “I’m extremely proud of all our staff, who have worked together and taken on board the challenges we face – there is more work to do but we are in a better place than we were a year ago that’s for sure.”

Mr Sobieraj said at the time of the inspection the trust was facing “unprecedented winter challenges”, particularly at Pilgrim Hospital.

“Our focus now will be to address the problems we know still exist and look to strengthen all our services as part of our continued 2021 strategy going forward,” he said.

Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said despite finding staff to be “car[ing] and committed to helping patients”, the regulator was disappointed to find that insufficient improvement had been made at Pilgrim Hospital since its last inspection.

Professor Baker said urgent and emergency care and young people’s care at the hospital needed “much work”.

“The trust leadership knows what it needs to do to make the necessary improvements and we will continue to monitor the trust,” Professor Baker added. “This will include further inspections.”