Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been ordered to partner with another trust to help drive sustainable improvements for patients, after being branded as ‘inadequate’ in a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

The trust has already been in special measures for two years, after being identified in 2013 as one of the 14 healthcare providers in England which had higher than expected mortality rates, and its consistent failure to deliver significant improvement has driven both the CQC and Monitor to conclude that a long-term partner trust is essential to secure the changes urgently needed.

While the trust received a ‘good’ rating for the care given to patients, the CQC concluded that it was ‘inadequate’ on the safety, effectiveness and leadership of its services, and ‘requires improvement’ on responsiveness.

“The findings of this inspection are deeply disappointing,” said Frances Shattock, Regional Director at Monitor. “We’ve agreed with the CQC that the trust will need more than a sticking plaster,” to address the range of problems observed at its hospitals, including staff issues, a high death rate (almost double the national average) for patients with blood poisoning, and higher than expected bed occupancy rates.

Monitor has also stepped in to strengthen the current leadership team at the trust with a series of new appointments, including: former NHS chief executive Peter Reading, who most recently delivered significant improvements at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS FT, to support and advise the executive team; Suzanne Banks, who has experience at senior levels within nursing, as Interim Director of Nursing; Fiona Wise, Improvement Director at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS FT, to undertake a package of work to ensure essential improvements are made to Sherwood’s maternity unit; and Eric Morton as Improvement Director.

Further appointments are to be announced by Monitor, including a new chief executive, in the near future, the regulator said.

A new start

Karen Fisher, Acting Chief Executive at the trust, apologised to patients “for not meeting the high standards they rightly expect”, but stressed “we have made a new start and are working hard to make the necessary improvements”.

“The CQC recognised our staff are caring, hard-working and compassionate. Our staff continue to deliver this compassionate care to the hundreds of patients who use our services every day.”

She also said the trust “welcomes the additional intensive support from Monitor,” and is now working with partners in the NHS and social care “to find new ways to develop safe, high quality, affordable health and care services for local people”.