PEFORMANCE: South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust been rated ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission.

The trust also faces further regulatory action from Monitor, following an increase in patients getting infections in its hospitals.

Tricia Hart

Tricia Hart said reducing hospital infections ‘is a top priority’ for the trust

Monitor said today it was “stepping up” its regulatory action against the trust. It comes after the FT “failed to act quickly enough to reduce the number of infections that patients acquire in its hospitals”.

The trust must develop and implement an “improved plan” to cut rates of C difficile infection. It needs to report back to Monitor monthly and ensure the improvements are sustainable.

Monitor regional director Paul Chandler said: “The number of patients picking up infections in the trust’s hospitals has risen and we have taken further action to make sure the trust responds swiftly.

“The trust will get expert help to draw up and implement a plan for reducing the number of infections and make sustainable improvements for its patients.”

The CQC today also published its inspection report of the trust. Its James Cook University Hospital and Friarage Hospital were both rated “requires improvement”. However, its community services were rated “good”.

The trust was rated “requires improvement” for its safety and effectiveness, and “good” for being well led, responsive and caring.

Inspectors raised concern about the trust’s nurse staffing shortages. Nursing staff levels were below nationally recognised guidelines on the children’s wards of both hospitals and at the trust’s neonatal unit.

They said the trust needs to “ensure that there are sufficient numbers of suitably qualified and experienced staff”, particularly in the accident and emergency department, medical and surgical wards, children’s wards and the paediatric intensive care unit.

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards acknowledged the trust was “going through significant period of change to restructure services” and “inspectors saw the trust was engaging staff, local commissioners and the public as part of this development”.

“However, I am concerned that shortages of staff in some departments may affect patient care,” he added. “While there have been moves to improve the recruitment process, the trust must continue to make this a priority.”

Trust chief executive Tricia Hart said it had “already made changes since the inspection but there are opportunities to further improve”.

Professor Hart also said reducing hospital infections “is a top priority for the organisation”.