I am delighted to let you know that our Trust has been rated as 'Good' by the CQC following their inspection in December 2014.

I am really pleased with this result which reflects very well on our Trust and is testament to the hard work, care and commitment shown by every one of our staff, not just during the inspection but on a daily basis as they go about their work.

This was the first time our hospitals had been inspected under the new regime which involved a much more rigorous approach than previous inspections. Following the inspection the CQC reviewed what they found and provided an overall rating for the Trust as well as individual ratings for each hospital. Although our Trust overall was rated as 'Good' our hospitals were also rated separately with Ashford being rated as 'Good' and St. Peter's being rated as 'Requiring Improvement'. It is obviously disappointing that we didn't get a 'Good' rating for both of our hospitals but it is worth noting that many elements of care at St. Peter's were rated as good with the overall rating being marked down due to a few specific areas where we need to improve.

The ratings are based on 5 key elements looking at whether the Trust is safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led and focuses on 8 core services (urgent and emergency services, medical care, surgery, critical care, maternity and gynaecology, services for children and young people, end of life care, outpatients and diagnostic imaging) so the rating provides a comprehensive view of the level of care and service we are providing and how well our Trust is run.

There were some real highlights which the CQC identified as being particularly good including the caring attitude across our Trust, real strengths in our end-of-life care, good multi-disciplinary working, the introduction of electronic patient records and how this improves patient care and how staff across the Trust demonstrate our values.

There were of course also some areas for improvement which the report identified. These included improving our staffing levels, medicines management and records management. We have already been working on many of these areas and will be putting in place comprehensive action plans to address these and other issues.

One area the report does highlight relates to safety, in particular having the right number of skilled permanent staff. Feeding back to us at their Quality Summit last week, the CQC made it very clear that they are not saying our hospitals are unsafe; rather that safety can be improved. We know we have difficulties in recruiting a number of staff groups, nurses and middle grade doctors in particular, and whilst we fill gaps with agency or bank staff, we recognise that is not as good - or as safe - as having staff who are permanent members of the team. We are already actively progressing different recruitment strategies but it's clear we need to be even more creative about how we do this. It is an absolute priority for us.

Importantly the CQC commented that quality and safety were a priority reflected from the executive level down, and specifically picked out our positive reporting culture.

You can view the full report on the CQC's website.


Suzanne Rankin
Chief Executive