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Chief Inspector of Hospitals rates Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as Requires Improvement

10 July 2015
  • Hospitals

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has rated Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as Requires Improvement following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

A team of inspectors has found that the trust provided services that were caring and effective. But the trust required improvement for providing safe, responsive and well led care.

During the inspection in January and February 2015, the team of inspectors and specialists including doctors, nurses, managers and experts by experience visited Warrington Hospital, Halton Hospital and community healthcare services provided at Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre.

Warrington Hospital was rated as Requires Improvement. Halton Hospital and Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre were rated as Good.

Full reports including ratings for all of the provider’s core services are available at:

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

“When we inspected the services run by Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we found that – across the board – staff were working hard to deliver compassionate care to patients. We were particularly impressed by the trust’s approach to dementia care.

“However, we also found that improvements were required in several areas. Pressures from high numbers of emergency admissions meant that some patients were being cared for on wards that were not suited to meeting their needs. It had also led to patients being moved from ward to ward, sometimes during the night. This issue must be addressed promptly to ensure that patients’ needs are appropriately met.

“The trust must also continue the work to improve discharge processes and tackle staff shortages. Although the wards and departments were adequately staffed at the time of our inspection, nurse vacancies were covered by bank and agency staff with regular staff also working overtime. This is not a sustainable position in the longer term. I know that the senior managers have acknowledged the importance of these challenges. I believe that trust has considerable potential to improve their services along these lines, and I will watch their progress with interest.”

Inspectors found every service to be caring and effective and patients and their relatives were extremely positive about the care and support they received from all the healthcare professionals. All areas visited were clean and well maintained, and robust infection control practices were adhered to by staff. Staff communicated with and supported people in a compassionate way, and patients and their families spoke positively about their care and treatment

The trust had a vision and strategy with clear aims and objectives, and staff at both hospitals were supportive of the trust’s vision and values.

However, pressures on bed capacity within the hospital were affecting patient care and experience. Some patients were being treated on wards that were not specific to their condition, or best suited to their needs. Patients were often moved before being placed in an appropriate setting and surgical patients were also affected because operations were cancelled if inpatient beds were not available.

Patients were often in hospital longer than they needed to be. Discharge processes were slow at Warrington Hospital and inspectors found high numbers of delayed transfers of care from the intensive care unit to appropriate wards. The trust was taking action to improve discharge processes and the early supported discharge team for stroke patients had resulted in a reduced length of stay and an improved patient experience for this group of patients. Inspectors also identified staffing issues. There was a heavy reliance on bank and agency nurses to maintain safe staffing levels and there were not always doctors on duty to provide timely treatment, particularly out of hours .The trust was actively recruiting nurses and had increased its staffing levels, however this remained an ongoing challenge.

Inspectors identified a number of areas of outstanding practice, including:

  • The purpose built and highly effective ward for patients living with dementia which was well equipped and well-staffed. Patients with dementia were assessed and admitted to the ward based on the severity of their dementia and managed sensitively and compassionately.

The inspection found a number of areas where the trust must make improvements, including:

  • Medical staffing must be sufficient to provide appropriate and timely treatment and review of patients at all times including out of hours.
  • The trust must take action to improve the levels of mandatory training compliance and the number of staff appraisals
  • Improvements must be made to patient flow throughout the hospital to ensure that patients are cared for on the appropriate ward for their needs and reduce the number of patient bed moves, particularly in the medical division.
  • Medicine stocks in the outpatient department must be accurately recorded and checked

The four reports which CQC publish 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 including Healthwatch.

On Friday 3 July 2015 the Care Quality Commission 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.


For further information please contact Kirstin Hannaford on 0191 233 3629 or David Fryer on 0790 151 4220. For media enquiries about the Care Quality Commission, please call the press office on 020 7448 9401 during office hours. Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here. (Please note: the duty press officer is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters).

For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors


The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading inspection teams that include CQC inspectors, doctors, nurses, managers and experts by experience (people with personal experience of using or caring for someone who uses the type of services we were inspecting). By March 2016, CQC will have inspected and rated all acute NHS Trusts in England. 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.


Since 1 April, providers have been required by law to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. This should be done within 21 days of publication of their inspection report. For further information on the display of 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.