Hospital judged outstanding ‘truly respected and valued patients’

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Photograph Simon Parker

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk NHS trust, which provides hospital and community care to local people, has been ranked as one of the best in the country by regulators in its latest inspection.

Stephen Dunn of West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: Contributed

Stephen Dunn of West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

The Bury St Edmunds based West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) is celebrating a top start to 2018 after receiving the highest rating, outstanding, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – one of just seven general hospitals in England, and the only one in the Midlands and East region, to hold the accolade.

Inspectors said WSFT staff 'truly respected and valued patients and individuals and empowered them as partners in their care, practically and emotionally, by offering an exceptional and distinctive service'.

They also said: 'On all the wards we visited, staff displayed a culture of compassion and positivity, and had a genuine desire to want to provide the best possible care to patients.'

The CQC visited the trust in November last year, inspecting its end-of-life and outpatient services and reviewing how well-led the organisation was.

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The trust was rated outstanding for being caring, effective and well-led, and good for being safe and responsive.

Chief executive Stephen Dunn said the trust was immensely proud of the achievement. He said: 'We are absolutely delighted to have received an outstanding rating.

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'This is a testament to everyone's hard work and unwavering commitment. I am privileged to see the incredible care our staff provide 24/7, 365 days a year, and I'm delighted that their efforts have been recognised by the CQC.

'I am particularly proud that our end-of-life service has moved from requires improvement in our last inspection, to outstanding. Good end of life care is tailored to the person who needs it, and this report shows that our staff go above and beyond to ensure comfort, dignity and kindness is at the heart of what they do.'

The new year boost comes after the busiest winter the trust has seen, which has seen record numbers of emergency attendances and admissions to the hospital. December saw a 6pc rise in people admitted to the hospital than in the same month the previous year.

But despite these challenges, CQC inspectors said staff had risen to the occasion. Referring to conversations had with patients and their families, they said: 'Feedback from people who used the services, those who are close to them, and stakeholders, was continually positive about the way staff treated people. Staff were highly motivated and inspired to offer care that was kind and promoted people's dignity.'

The report also praised the trust for its excellent cancer recognition and treatment times, and for having an excellent staff talent programme tailored to supporting leaders across all levels of the organisation – not just those traditionally seen as being senior figures.

Of the organisation's leadership team, the CQC noted that the trust had 'compassionate, inclusive and effective leadership at all levels', and that staff felt they were well supported to make positive changes and innovations – also reflected in the latest NHS Staff Survey (2016), where the trust achieved the best staff engagement score in the country.

The trust was last inspected in March 2016, when it was rated as good overall. In its latest report, the CQC noted that there had been a focus on improving care 'across the organisation'.

But the organisation and its people aren't complacent. Mr Dunn added: 'Although we have been rated outstanding we know we are not perfect - there are areas we still need to work on and the report will help us to focus on addressing these so we can continue to improve.

'2017 was, in many ways, a very difficult year for the trust and we have more challenges ahead. Despite being classed as one of the most efficient organisations in the NHS, like others we are facing one of our toughest ever periods financially. In order to meet increasing demand from an ageing population, drive up quality and respond to rising patient expectations, we know we will have to find ways to do more with the same amount of money. This means we have made, and will continue to have to make, some tough decisions. I am immensely grateful to our senior leaders, including our previous chair, Roger Quince, for the compassionate and strong leadership they have shown during these times.

'But I am confident that through the work we're undertaking, and the continued dedication of our amazing staff, we will do everything in our power to ensure patients and their families continue to receive the highest standard of care. We want to work towards every service provided by the trust being rating as outstanding.'

NHS Improvement's executive regional managing director for the Midlands and East, Dale Bywater, added: 'This is a fantastic achievement, and testament to the dedication and commitment of staff at the trust. They can be justifiably proud of all the hard work they have put in to achieve outstanding services for patients and families.

'We are particularly pleased to see the leadership working so effectively with its teams to provide high quality care, and putting patients at the heart of all they do.

'Patient safety remains our priority, and we will continue to work closely with the trust on the areas for improvement identified in the CQC's report.'

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