Quality of service falls at region's hospitals

A HEALTH check report released today has revealed that the quality of services in most of the region's hospitals has dropped from the previous year.

Naomi Gornall

A HEALTH check report released today has revealed that the quality of services in most of the region's hospitals has dropped from the previous year.

The NHS Performance Ratings, produced by the Care Quality Commission, shows that 14 out of the 40 trusts covered by the East of England Strategic Health Authority have received a lower overall quality score.

Prue Rush, a Suffolk health campaigner, said: “As a region we have always been more underfunded compared to others. The more rules and regulations the government is bringing in, the harder it is for the hospitals to reach the appropriate targets, and they are not being given the funding or facilities to achieve them.”

Norwyn Cole, regional director for the Care Quality Commission's East region: “The results for trusts in the NHS in the East of England demonstrate there have been some improvements. However, a number have received an overall score that is lower than last year and it is concerning these trusts were not able to maintain their previous ratings.”

West Suffolk Hospital's quality of services dropped from 'excellent' to 'good', whereas its financial management improved from 'fair' to 'good'.

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Chris Bown, its chief executive, said: “The CQC's rating highlighted an issue around data collection within the audiology service, which falls within the category of 18-week referral to treatment times. As a result, we have been classed as 'failing' against the 18 week target.

“Meeting the 18-week target has always been an area where West Suffolk has excelled, so it is extremely frustrating that a data collection issue, which forms a very small part of this performance indicator, has affected our assessment in this way. I will be taking this matter up with the CQC.”

Ipswich Hospital improved in the area of financial management, increasing from a 'fair' to a 'good' rating due to getting its budget under control. However the hospital also dropped from a 'good' to 'fair' rating in the quality of service due to the problems experienced earlier this year by not hitting the 18-week referral to treatment time target.

Andrew Reed, chief executive, said: “This is clearly disappointing but we have taken action to address this problem and are very determined to improve this rating.”

Colchester Hospital's rating for its quality of service dropped from 'excellent' to 'fair' but its financial management improved, from 'good' to 'excellent'.

Its chief executive, Peter Murphy, said: “Our performance for the whole 12-month period was skewed by the excessive demand we experienced in the last three months of the year - January, February and March. However, since then we have implemented a number of action plans which have resulted in significant improvements.”

James Paget Hospital's quality of service also fell from 'excellent' to 'good', and its financial management rating remained as 'excellent'.

John Hemming, Trust chairman, said: “Work has already taken place to address the three areas highlighted for further development by the report - reducing delayed transfers of care, smoking and breastfeeding in pregnancy and participation in heart disease audits.”

Mid Essex Hospital bucked the trend as its quality of service improved from 'good' to 'excellent' and it retained its 'excellent' rating for financial management.

Chief executive Professor Graham Ramsay said: “Despite receiving these top ratings we are not complacent as we are constantly striving to improve the quality of the care and total experience of our patients when they come to one of our hospitals.”

Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust scored 'fair' for its quality of services, which was a drop from last year's 'good' rating. It maintained the previous year's good rating for financial management.

Trust chief executive Mark Halladay said: “The CQC assessments are, quite rightly, rigorous and, as well as showing the many areas in which we are performing extremely well, it also shows us areas where we need to improve. It is very disappointing that we have fallen one point in the quality of service ratings. It redoubles our determination to achieve excellence for the people of Suffolk.”

The East of England Ambulance Service also improved on their 'weak' rating in both categories for last year by achieving a 'fair' rating for both.

Its chief executive Hayden Newton said: “I'd like to thank all our staff across the service, because our score is a reflection of their hard work and dedication.”

The North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust improved from 'fair' to 'excellent' for quality of services and retained its 'excellent' rating for financial management. Chief executive Andrew Geldard said: “We wouldn't have been able to achieve this without the commitment of our staff, so I'd really like to extend my thanks to them.”

North East Essex PCT retained its 'good' rating for quality of services but dropped to 'fair' for its financial management.

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, chief executive, said: “Despite a very challenging winter period we have managed to maintain our performance and score this year. Our financial management is in the middle of the national table.”

Mid Essex PCT improved from 'fair' to 'good' in both categories.