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Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is rated Outstanding by Chief Inspector of Hospitals

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has found Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to be Outstanding after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

It is the fourth trust to be rated Outstanding under CQC’s programme of comprehensive inspections.

Overall, the trust has been rated as Outstanding in respect of being caring, effective, responsiveness and well-led.

There were many factors that contributed to the Outstanding rating including:

  • Inspirational leadership and strong clinical engagement had ensured that a recent reconfiguration of services the change had been managed effectively
  • There was strong integration of all services between the hospital and community, particularly in end of life care services
  • Staff delivered compassionate care, which was polite and respectful, going out of their way to overcome obstacles to ensure this.
  • The number of consultants was higher than average, and the trust used advance nurse practitioners to support doctors

The trust has four main hospitals. The new Northumbria Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington, which opened in June 2015, was rated as Outstanding, as were the North Tyneside General Hospital, Wansbeck General Hospital and Hexham General Hospital. Berwick and Alnwick Infirmaries were rated as Good. The trust’s community services, serving a Northumberland and North Tyneside were also rated Outstanding.

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

“We found Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust to be one of the best hospital trusts in England.

“It is very rare indeed that the community children and young people's service should be rated outstanding in all of its domains. I congratulate the trust for this achievement. The most remarkable finding to me was the consistency of the outstanding ratings across all four hospital locations and across community services. To achieve this across so many sites is truly remarkable and is a first. It demonstrates that it is possible to achieve excellence even when services are widely dispersed geographically.

“The opening of the specialist emergency care hospital last year has enabled the trust to introduce a new model of care, with improved pathways for patients in emergency, maternity and medical and surgical care. This had meant different ways of working for some staff. The strong leadership and clinical engagement has ensured that this change had been managed extremely well and effectively.

“We found that staff felt fully informed about all the changes which had taken place and were proud of the hospital and the care it provided to the local community and beyond. The overall outcome is an Outstanding service for patients, whether they are being cared for in hospital, or at home.”

Across the trust as a whole, CQC has rated 20 core services as Outstanding. Full reports, including ratings, are available on this website.

Inspectors found many areas of outstanding practice including:

  • North Tyneside General Hospital is rated in the top five hospitals in the country for the treatment of emergency hip fractures. The hospital had also been recently recognised by the General Medical Council as the best in the country for the quality of training for orthopaedic surgeons.
  • Staff considered patients individual preferences, going out of their way to exceed expectations to meet their wishes particularly in end of life care. Staff members had adapted the “This is me” booklet and used it for long term patients where they included information from relatives and visitors about patients’ personal preferences
  • In community health services for adults the immediate response team provided urgent support for people in a time of crisis. The IRT team jointly worked across adult social care between Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the local authority. The partnership working had developed a range of integrated services to support care closer to home for patients and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
  • In Community Services for Children, Young People and Families patient outcomes were consistently high and better than the England average. For example, the immunisation rate for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in children aged two was 96.3% in Northumberland and 95.8% in North Tyneside, both better the national average of 92.7%.

There were excellent arrangements to support young people with complex needs and learning disabilities transitioning to adult services. Specialist school nurses supported the transition process for 17 to 19 year olds and the trust had recently appointed a dedicated specialist nurse to review current practice and identify any gaps in the service.

The reports which CQC publishes today are based on a combination of its inspection findings, information from CQC’s Intelligent Monitoring system, and information provided by patients, the public and other organisations.

CQC carried out an announced visit between 9 and 13 November 2015, and an unannounced visit to the Emergency Care Hospital on 2 December. The team included a CQC inspection manager, 23 CQC inspectors and a variety of specialists including: a non-executive director, Director of Nursing, consultant anaesthetist, consultant physician and a gastroenterologist.

A team of CQC inspectors and specialists including doctors, nurses, managers and experts by experience spent four days at the trust in December 2015. CQC has published separate reports on the services provided by the trust and the full reports of the inspection.

For more information visit:

Future events of interest: 

Outstanding CQC Inspections in Hospitals
Tuesday 21 June 2016 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Outstanding CQC Inspections in General Practice
Tuesday 27 September 2016
Hallam Conference Centre, London

5 May 2016


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