Health watchdogs rate hospital trust's performance

Independent health watchdogs have praised Southampton’s university hospitals for treating patients with respect and offering a high standard of care.

The Care Quality Commission’s annual health check also rated the maternity unit at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust as one of the country’s “better performing” services.

Although meeting 89% of the 66 assessments, targets were not hit in promoting equality, outpatient waiting times and levels of MRSA infection. All of these issues have now been addressed.

Overall, SUHT consolidated on its previous rating of “good” for quality of financial management, but dropped from “good” to “fair” for quality of services.

Everything from cleanliness and patient safety, to waiting times and complaints handling was scrutinised in the stringent evaluation.

SUHT, which runs Southampton General Hospital, the Princess Anne Hospital and Countess Mountbatten House, recorded good results in a variety of individual assessments, gaining top marks for standard of care (8/8), dignity and respect (9/9) and keeping the public healthy (5/5).

It also achieved strong marks in other areas such as safety and cleanliness (13/14), waiting to be seen (9/12) and good management (15/18).

Mark Hackett, chief executive, said: “We are pleased to have been praised in the areas our patients tell us matter most.

“We have much to celebrate but clearly there is still room for improvement in a small number of areas.

“Our aim is to continuously improve across the Trust to provide the very best possible care for our patients and these ratings will help us focus on any areas in need of attention.”

He added: “We are already addressing the issues raised in the health check and have recently seen a significant drop in infection rates, achieving some of the best performance nationally for reducing MRSA. The Trust has also developed a wide-reaching plan to ensure we tackle any shortfalls in equality and diversity.”

Between April and August 2009, cases of MRSA fell by 87% and Clostridium difficile by 39%.

The annual health check is just one of many reviews by external bodies used by SUHT to focus on what it is doing well and identify any areas for improvement.

The Care Quality Commission has described the annual health check as the most comprehensive assessment of NHS performance.

Posted on Thursday 15 October 2009