United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust still in special measures

Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.
Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust will remain in special measures following a report from health inspectors.

The trust has kept its overall rating of “requires improvement” following inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) between February and April.

Trust bosses say they are “disappointed” with the result which comes “despite all our best efforts” but said they were “determined to make significant improvements”.

Here’s what inspectors rated the trust overall:

Are services safe? – Requires improvement

Are services effective? – Requires Improvement

Are services caring? – Good

Are services responsive? – Requires Improvement

Are services well-led? – Requires Improvement

The inspectors raised concerns over staffing levels at both Boston and Lincoln hospitals – with particular reference to the number of locum and agency staff. They also raised issues with the monitoring of the trust’s effectiveness and the length of time some services took for treatment.

Leaders were criticised for not using reliable systems and it was noted that staff did not always “feel respected, supported or valued”.

Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “ULHT must make further sustainable improvements to ensure that people receive the care they should be able to expect.

“During our inspection we found staff were caring and committed to helping patients, but we were disappointed to find that insufficient improvement had been made and that, in some instances, improvements witnessed as part of our inspection in 2018 had not been maintained.”

“This is why I am recommending that it remains in special measures and continues to receive support to improve.”

The inspectors said urgent and emergency care at Pilgrim Hospital was “of significant concern” and were worried that children and young people’s service was rated “inadequate” overall.

Services at both Pilgrim Hospital and Lincoln Hospital had both declined – with the former being graded inadequate over safety, and Lincoln the same for its urgent and emergency services.

As a result the inspectors imposed conditions on the two emergency departments and issued Pilgrim Hospital with a warning over its children and young people’s service.

The inspectors acknowledged the challenges the trust faced over its resources, including the “significant deficit” in its funding.

They did, however, praise a number of areas of outstanding practice, including medical, care and maternity.

Following the report the trust has been told it must make improvements including to its executive and staff leadership team, staff understanding and respect and workforce numbers, performance and training.

It has also been told that it “must ensure all patients who attend the urgent and emergency care department at Lincoln County Hospital are admitted, transferred and discharged from the department within four hours”.

In response to the report, ULHT chief executive, Andrew Morgan, said: “We are disappointed that despite all of our best efforts, we have not made the progress we wanted and therefore will not be coming out of special measures.

“We acknowledge that we have more to do to improve our rating, but we’d like to reassure our patients and public that although many areas of our hospitals were rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ in this latest inspection, we maintain a focus on providing safe, quality care to our patients and our rating for ‘Caring’  was ‘Good’.”

He said the trust was taking action to make improvements “as quickly as possible”.

“We are determined to take this feedback and make significant improvements across the Trust, for the benefit of our staff and patients,” he said.

He said a “comprehensive quality and safety improvement plan” had been put in place.