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Chief Inspector of Hospitals finds significant improvements for emergency patients at Southmead

6 April 2016
  • Media,
  • Hospitals

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has welcomed improvements in the care of patients using the accident and emergency department at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

The A and E department had previously been rated Inadequate by the Care Quality Commission. But following its latest inspection – the department, part of North Bristol NHS Trust, has been rated Good.

The hospital provides emergency care and treatment to more than 100,000 adults a year. Figures from the NHS national trauma audit and research network, have shown that Southmead Hospital had the best survival rate of any trauma centre in England and Wales for 2015.

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

“A year ago I was seriously concerned at the safety of the urgent and emergency services. We warned North Bristol NHS Trust that it must take action to deal with demand in the emergency department, where patients were waiting too long to be assessed and treated.

"I am encouraged by the findings of this inspection. There is still work to be done to improve how patients move through the hospital - but the trust can be proud of the improvements they have managed to date. I am pleased that staff continue to work well together and were kind, caring and focused on their patients."

A team of CQC inspectors carried out an inspection of the North Bristol NHS Trust during December to follow up on the areas that had been rated as Inadequate and Requires Improvement on inspection in November 2014.

Overall the trust is still rated as Requires Improvement. However, there were notable improvements in many services.

Inspectors found several areas of outstanding practice across the trust, including:

Patients with dementia received care and treatment that was sympathetic and knowledgeable. There were 100 dementia champions within the trust and a focus on environmental changes to support patients.

The bereavement midwife visited women in the Central Delivery Suite and also followed women up at home, vising after the normal time limit for postnatal care. Family support was also offered for subsequent pregnancies A pharmacist worked In the pre-admission clinic to review medications of patients who were about to undergo surgery to reduce the number of operations which may otherwise have to be cancelled.

Sir Mike continued:

“Staff were positive about working at the trust and they were encouraged to talk, email and tweet about why they were proud of their trust.

“The executive team impressed us in their development since our last inspection. Frontline staff and managers were passionate about providing a high quality service for patients with a continual drive to improve the delivery of care.

"There are some areas for improvement - and I will continue to monitor the trust's performance, but overall the trust should be congratulated for continuing to make progress."

Inspectors found areas where improvements were needed including:

The trust must improve patient flow within the hospital and ensure that there is a robust hospital-wide system of bed management so as to, significantly reduce delays in patient flow through the emergency department; reduce occupancy to recommended levels within medical services; and, ensure that there is capacity within the hospital so that patients can be admitted to and discharged from critical care at the optimal time for their health and well-being.

The trust must ensure patient information remains confidential through appropriate storage of records in the outpatient clinics and theatre departments to prevent unauthorised people from having access to them.

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.

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 full reports including ratings for all core services are available at:


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors


The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public. Whenever CQC inspects it will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led? 


The Care Quality Commission has already presented its findings to a local Quality Summit, including NHS commissioners, providers, regulators and other public bodies. The purpose of the Quality Summit is to develop a plan of action and recommendations based on the inspection team’s findings.


Since 1 April 2015, providers have been required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. For further information on the requirement for providers to prominently display their CQC ratings, please visit:


About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.