Significant improvements have seen an NHS Trust move out of ‘special measures’ following its latest inspection.
A team from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) noted a “positive culture” at the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Watford General – and an environment where staff are “proud to work”.
It also pointed to evidence of “strong, supportive and visible leadership” as it made the recommendation to upgrade its status when examining whether it was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.
Chief executive Katie Fisher said it was great to “shake off” the special measures tag and said the “only thing that deserves to be called special is our wonderful staff”.
And Watford MP Richard Harrington was quick to offer his congratulations to those who had helped convince the inspectors of their decision.
He said: “It’s a huge achievement for the trust to come out of special measures, and is testament to the hard working staff who should all be very proud.
“The dedication of the staff and leadership has been clear, and the inspection has picked up on the significant progress that has been made.
“It’s great to see that the improvements are across the board and that the CQC noted a ‘positive culture’ at the hospitals.”
Despite this good news, there is still room for progress, something that was noted by Mr Harrington.
The trust as a whole was rated as ‘requires improvement’, though it is considered ‘good’ when it comes to caring.
Watford General also ‘requires improvement’ despite a number of its departments being classed as ‘good’ by the CQC. A similar pattern was seen at St Albans City Hospital and Hemel Hempstead Hospital.
Watford’s urgent and emergency department was deemed ‘inadequate’ due to concerns over safety, responsiveness and leadership.
It comes after the announcement that almost 200 non-urgent planned operations had been deferred at the hospital this month.
And in December, a third of people visiting West Herts A&E departments waited for more than four hours before being either discharged or admitted as the NHS suffered its worst waiting time performances since records began.
But trust chair, Professor Steve Barnett, chose to focus on the positives, noting how it was appropriate recognition of the efforts of all who work there.
He said: “These results tell a story of commitment, care and high quality services. Even the quickest glance makes it clear that we have come a long, long way since being placed in special measures in 2015.
“I am immensely proud of our staff. They never stop wanting to improve, to learn and to deliver the very best care for every patient, every day.
“Our leadership teams, from the board to the wards, have been growing in strength over the last few years and this has played a big part in our move out of special measures.
“I would also like to pay tribute to our wonderful volunteers. I was thrilled to see that the volunteer-run Carer Support Team was praised by the CCQ for the support they give to the parents and friends of unwell babies and children.”
His words were echoed by Watford Mayoral candidate George Jabbour, who was impressed by the trust’s commitment to improvement when he visited Watford General.
He said: “Many congratulations to the trust and the leadership team that the trust is no longer in special measures.
“Such an outcome recognises the hard work and commitment that have been put by everyone involved to deliver better services for our community.”