The chief inspector of hospitals has recommended a troubled acute foundation trust be removed from special measures.

The Care Quality Commission’s Sir Mike Richards today said Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust had demonstrated improvements in safety at its most recent inspection in July.

The trust has moved from an “inadequate” rating to “requires improvement”.

Earlier this month Nottingham University Hospitals Trust pulled out of a merger with Sherwood, citing “operational challenges”. Nottingham’s chair and chief executive had been in charge at Sherwood since June but have now stepped down.

Sherwood Forest was one of the first batch of NHS trusts put in special measures, in 2013, when a review led by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh found substantial failings.

It means two of the initial 11 hospital trusts placed in “special measures” in 2013 still are today.

Sherwood was given an “inadequate” rating following another inspection in 2015. Sir Mike said: ”Special measures is designed to provide intensive support to struggling trusts and Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust clearly gained from the special measures regime and the support it provided.

“During our inspection we found that wards and clinical areas were clean and there were systems to monitor and manage the risk of the spread of infection. There were systems to ensure records, medicines management and maintenance of equipment was given priority.

“Although we saw high numbers of nursing staff vacancies on medical wards the number of staff was found to be appropriate to ensure the needs of patients were met. We also found that, since our last inspection, the outpatient service had made significant improvements. Most notably improvement had taken place with regard to the review of patient outcomes and reducing the number of overdue appointments. However, inspectors found some concerns regarding staffing and booking arrangements for ophthalmology outpatient clinics.”

Inspectors highlighted improvements in the management of deteriorating patients and the treatment of sepsis.

Delivery and improvement director at NHS Improvement Fran Steele said: “The success in reducing the time patients wait to be seen in A&E is particularly encouraging, the trust’s A&E performance is now among the best in the country. A well run emergency department is a good indicator of the quality of a trust’s performance more widely and a clear sign of effective clinical leadership.”

Sherwood now has a new chief executive, Peter Herrring. Mr Herring was appointed as interim chief executive in November 2015 but moved to a “managing director” role at the trust while Mr Homa was in charge. It is not known whether he has now been appointed substantively or is still an interim.

He said in a statement: ”I am immensely proud of what staff have achieved. They deserve to celebrate today’s news and take this opportunity to reflect on everything they have contributed to improving the quality of care over the past year. However, we cannot stand still and there is yet more to be done. We want this trust to be ‘outstanding’, and our board committed in this month’s public meeting to focusing on this over the next year. ”Once today’s celebrations are over, we will turn our attention to building on the improvements we’ve made and addressing our other top priorities, which include recruiting to a significant number of nursing and other clinical roles, establishing a stable leadership team, and engaging with staff to ensure we deliver the very best care possible within our available resources.

“We remain committed to developing a strategic partnership with Nottingham University Hospitals, and I would like to thank colleagues for their support over the past six months. Both parties have benefited from joint working and shared learning, and the excellent work of clinicians from both trusts has helped support a number of the improvements we have made here at Sherwood Forest Hospitals.”