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Chief Inspector of Hospitals recommends Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust exits special measures following Care Quality Commission inspection

11 August 2016
Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust
  • Media

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust exits special measures following a Care Quality Commission inspection.

The trust is now rated ‘Good’ overall following an inspection in May. It is also rated ‘Good’ for being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

The trust was placed in to special measures after being rated ‘Inadequate’ overall following an inspection in September 2014. CQC also returned to check on progress at the trust in January 2015. During this period the trust was privately managed, but in April 2015 it reverted to being managed by the NHS.

Inspectors returned in October 2015 and found that while good progress had been made further work was still needed and that the trust needed to remain in special measures.

The most recent inspection found significant improvements. Most new systems and processes were in place and had been embedded at the trust. Staff were caring and compassionate towards patients, there was an increased emphasis on learning from incidents at the trust and there were clear visions for its services and visible leadership.

However there were areas where improvement was needed, such as in the emergency department where patients were waiting longer than average to be seen, some equipment for carrying out patient tests hadn’t been checked as it should have been and the triaging of patients after arriving by ambulance wasn't timely.

CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Edward Baker, said:

“Our return to Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust showed significant improvements had been made. This is reflected in the trust being rated as ‘Good’ and our recommendation to NHS Improvement that the trust now comes out of special measures.

“Special measures are designed to provide intensive support to struggling trusts and Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust clearly gained from the special measures regime and the support it provided.

“This trust’s journey of improvement, from being rated ‘Inadequate’ to now, serves as a positive example for other trusts and its staff and leadership should be proud of their achievement. We congratulate the staff and the leadership for the effort they have put in to address the problems we found on our previous inspections. This has made a real difference to the quality of care patients receive.

“There remain some areas for improvement and we have recommended that the trust continues to receive support to enable it to make these. The trust leadership knows what it must do now to ensure further positive change takes place. We will continue to monitor the trust and this will include further inspections.”

Inspectors also found examples of outstanding practice at the trust, which included:

  • The trust employed an Admiral Nurse to support people living with dementia, their relatives and carers as well as staff. This was one of only five Admiral Nurses in acute trusts in England.
  • Staff worked with a local prison where consultants review patients that are at the end of their lives and work with prison and hospital staff to ensure patients were safely admitted to the hospital or referred to the local hospice.

The inspection highlighted where the trust it must improve, which included:

  • There must be sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced medical staff on duty in the emergency department to meet patient needs and the trust must ensure robust contingency plans, which forecast shortages and make sure there is appropriate cover, are in place.
  • The time to treatment from a clinician in the emergency department must be reviewed and times to treatment improved.
  • The triage process for ambulance arrivals must ensure that the pathway for patients is safe and times of assessment accurately recorded.
  • Infection control practices within the emergency department must be improved
  • Processes for the checking equipment, particularly blood glucose and anaphylaxis boxes, in the emergency department must improve to ensure patient safety.

Full copies of the reports relating to the trust can be found on this website.


For media enquiries, contact CQC’s press office on 020 7448 9401, during office hours, or, out of hours, on 07789 876508. For general enquiries, call 03000 61 61 61.

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?


This report describes our judgement of the overall quality of care provided by this trust. It is based on a combination of what we found when we inspected, information from our ‘Intelligent Monitoring’ system, and information given to us from patients, the public and other organisations.


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.


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.