• Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust becomes fourth provider to be rated outstanding
  • Trust rated outstanding in unprecedented 20 core services
  • Until November it was run by Jim Mackey, now chief executive of NHS Improvement

Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust has become the fourth in the country to be rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.

Hexham general hospital

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Hexham general hospital

Twenty of the trust’s core services received the top rating – the most awarded to any trust to date. The CQC called the level of consistency in outstanding ratings “remarkable” and “a first” for the NHS.

Until November last year Northumbria Healthcare was run by Jim Mackey, who is now the chief executive of NHS Improvement.

The trust was inspected by the CQC in November and December. In its inspection report, published on Thursday, the regulator has rated Northumbria as outstanding in four of its five domains – caring, effective, responsive and well led. All four of Northumbria’s main hospitals were rated outstanding.

The CQC said it had found “inspirational leadership and strong clinical engagement” at the trust. A recent acute services reconfiguration, which culminated with the opening of a new emergency care hospital at Cramlington in June, “had been managed effectively”.

Inspectors found there was “strong integration” between the trust’s hospital and community services, with the latter also rated outstanding.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said Northumbria was “one of the best” trusts in England, and added that its community services for children and young people being outstanding in all domains was “very rare”.

“The most remarkable finding to me was the consistency of the outstanding ratings across all four hospital locations and across community services,” Sir Mike said.

“To achieve this across so many sites is truly remarkable and is a first.”

The CQC did identify some areas where Northumbria needed to make improvements. It asked the trust to ensure its clinical strategy met recommendations from NHS England’s national maternity review, as well as making improvements to the storage of emergency drugs and improving the entrance and exit to its new birthing centre.

David Evans, Northumbria’s chief executive, said he was “delighted” with the CQC’s findings, which he said were the result of clinical ownership and an “open culture” at the trust.

'Remarkable' trust given CQC’s top rating