Northamptonshire's NHS has 'notable examples of outstanding practice' - glowing watchdog report finds

Inspectors praised NHFT staff who are headed up by CEO Angela Hillery (bottom right)
Inspectors praised NHFT staff who are headed up by CEO Angela Hillery (bottom right)

A Northamptonshire health trust has improved its Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating after inspectors found outstanding practice in all areas during a visit earlier this summer.

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, headed by Angela Hillery, provides a range of services across the county to 733,000 people including mental health, learning disability, community health and prison health services.

The trust was rated as good following an inspection in January 2017 but on CQC’s return inspectors found a number of improvements had been made resulting in it receiving the top 'outstanding' rating.

CQC inspectors visited the trust in June and July to look at six services that were previously rated as 'requires improvement'.

These were acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units, mental health crisis services and health-based places of safety, community-based mental health services for older people, community-based mental health services for adults of working age, community health services, inpatient services and community health services for adults

The deputy chief inspector for hospitals, Paul Lelliott, said: "We were pleased with the quality of care provided by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and there were notable examples of outstanding practice.

"We were particularly impressed by the strength of leadership at the trust.

"The trust board and senior leadership team displayed integrity, were proactive in addressing challenges and engaged well with partner organisations in the local area."

The CQC found the trust had a vision for what it wanted to achieve and workable plans that turned it into action while its managers at all levels had the right skills and abilities to run a service providing high-quality, sustainable care.

Staff were found to be helpful, understanding and used kind and supportive language that patients could understand.

The report highlighted the staff's "strong and therapeutic relationships" with their patients and carers "clearly understood the needs" of their patients.

They were always on hand to offer guidance and reassurance in situations where patients felt unwell or distressed or confused.

"The trust should also be commended for its attitude towards innovation and service improvements," said Mr Lelliott.

"Its desire to drive service improvement for the benefit of patients, carers, and the wider system was evident throughout the inspection.

"The trust prioritised engagement at every level and through all services.

"As a result, staff, patients and carers were actively involved in improving the quality of services.

"Staff encouraged and enabled patients, families and carers to give feedback on the care they had received. The ‘I want great care’ initiative was just one example of this."

The CQC did find small areas where the trust could make improvements, namely in the safety of some of its services.

These included the acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units and mental health crisis services and health-based places of safety.

"Overwhelmingly, however, we found a trust that provides excellent care during our inspection," concluded the report.

"The trust board and all staff working at the trust are to be congratulated for their hard work in achieving such high standards across its services.”

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is rated as Outstanding overall as well as for whether its services are caring and well-led. It is rated as Good for whether its services are safe, effective and responsive.