Hospital getting better - but stays in special measures

 QEH King's Lynn

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A Norfolk hospital which has been in special measures for more than two years is improving in several key areas, a new report has revealed.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, has been rated as 'good' in relation to how caring it is for patients across all of its core services. 

It follows two unannounced visits to the trust in September, when inspectors focused on the services rated as either 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement' in a 2019 report

Qheen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw and Prof Steve Barnett, chair of the Queen El

CEO Caroline Shaw and chairman Steve Barnett from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

They included medicine, urgent and emergency care, maternity, diagnostic imaging, end of life care and surgery. 

It is hoped a full inspection in 2021 will result in QEH being taken out of special measures and its overall rating of 'inadequate' being upgraded.

In their feedback, inspectors praised a change in culture at the hospital, an issue highlighted by the CQC during previous inspections.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings LynnThe Chief Executive of the QEH Caroline Shaw

Caroline Shaw, CEO of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Caroline Shaw, the hospital's chief executive, said: "This is recognition that the culture is changing but it doesn't happen overnight.

"We are on a journey to have proactive staff engagement and focus, to care for staff as well as we care for patients and that's not always been the case in the past."

Steve Barnett, chairman of the trust, said: "The change in culture in palpable and that is so significant in securing the improvements we've seen."

QEH chair Steve Barnett, who has written to MPs appealing for them to support the case for a new hos

Steve Barnett, chairman of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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Despite recognising improvements across the board, the CQC highlighted three actions QEH must take to comply with legal obligations.

They include ensuring anaesthetists in the maternity department complete necessary training, while staffing levels and out of hours staffing arrangements in diagnostic imaging must be made more sustainable.

However, the trust says work is under way to address these concerns, which feature in its overall improvement plan. 

No specific services at QEH are deemed to be 'inadequate', although only two - critical care and services for children and young people - are rated as 'good', with the remainder requiring improvement. 

While pleased with having made clear progress, the message from senior staff at QEH is that there is plenty more work to be done.

"Of course we cannot get complacent," added Ms Shaw. "We still know we have got to make things better for our patients and staff."

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