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'Good' rating for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust despite watchdog's safety concerns

Health staff celebrate (6757619)
Health staff celebrate (6757619)

Safety concerns have been raised about services provided by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT).

Although its performance was rated ‘Good’ overall by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the watchdog criticised some procedures.

Across the county, the trust provides school nurses and health visitors for children and young people, district nurses, diabetes services, rehabilitation in community hospitals and other specialist services for adults and children.

The CQC which monitors, inspects and regulates health and social care services in England, scrutinised its performance in September last year and has just published the results.

It rates services under five domains, determining whether services are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led. Following its inspection in September 2018, the CQC rated HCT’s services as ‘Good’ for being effective, caring, responsive and well led, but gave a rating of ‘Requires improvement’ for safety.

Clare Hawkins, chief executive at HCT, said of the inspection result: “This is a great achievement and a real testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams across Hertfordshire. Since our previous inspection in 2016, we have retained our overall rating of ‘Good’ whilst at the same time introducing a number of innovations and new services.

“These include: a new public health nursing service for the county - health visiting and school nursing - as part of the new Hertfordshire Family Centre Service; integrated nutrition/dietetics and diabetes services, delivered with local NHS and voluntary sector organisations, which help provide patients with more seamless care; and a unique electronic consent form for school-aged flu vaccinations which has been nationally recognised. I am also very pleased that the improvements we have made in community end of life care since our 2016 inspection have been recognised, with an overall rating of Good for this service.”

Specific issues raised by the CQC which require improvement include:

  • Ensuring all patients on inpatient units receive medicines on time;
  • Ensuring that patient records always include mental capacity assessments and that “do not resuscitate” agreements are recorded in line with policies;
  • Ensuring that testing and maintenance of medical equipment is always carried out and recorded in line with policies.

Clare said: “We recognise the areas where the CQC have told us that we need to make improvements and we are addressing the issues they raised with us, in particular making sure that we always manage medication and equipment correctly. Following the inspection, we took immediate actions to ensure that patient records are accurate, resuscitation equipment is always in place and that all equipment is regularly monitored, tested and maintained.

“Across our inpatient units, we scored less well overall than in the previous inspection. We have already begun a comprehensive improvement programme with a particular focus on medicines management, patient records and the planning of care for patients at the end of life. We know there is more to do in this service and we have a robust action plan in place to ensure we make all these improvements as quickly as possible.”

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