Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is rated Outstanding by Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Published: 1 September 2016 Page last updated: 12 May 2022

A combination of innovation and high quality care has led England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals to rate Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust as Outstanding after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

It is one of the first mental health trusts to be rated Outstanding under CQC’s programme of comprehensive inspections.

The trust is one of the largest mental health and disability Trusts in England. It employs more than 6,000 staff and serves a population of approximately 1.4 million.

Following the inspection in May and June this year, a team of inspectors rated the trust as Outstanding for being effective, caring, responsive, and well-led, and Good for being safe.

Dr Paul Lelliott, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (and CQC lead for mental health), said:

“The quality of the services provided by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is exceptional. The trust is well led and has a clear vision and strategy for delivering the highest standards of patient care. We have rated eight of its 15 core services as Outstanding, and the remainder are rated as Good.

“We were particularly impressed by the way the trust empowers front-line staff to contribute to the development of its services. As a result, staff are enthusiastic and keen to improve the quality of care that they provide. They place patients at the centre of everything that they do. This was confirmed by the highly positive feedback we received from people who use the trust services.

“The trust is prepared to innovate and work collaboratively with other NHS trusts. For example, they have worked with a neighbouring organisation to provide an eating disorders service.

“This rating of Outstanding reflects the contribution that every person who works at the trust has made to providing high quality care and I commend the whole staff team”

The full report, including the ratings for individual services, is available at:

Inspectors found staff were enthusiastic, they had pride in the care and treatment they provided and looked for opportunities to improve the experience of patients. The trust encouraged personal and professional development in all roles.

Teams from a range of professional disciplines worked well together to support patients in their recovery and meet their goals.

The trust was open and transparent about safety, and staff were encouraged to report incidents. Processes were in place to keep adults and children safe from abuse and staff were able to describe what action they would take to safeguard a patient if they had a concern. Data showed each occurrence of events such as pressure ulcers and falls, were fully investigated to identify the cause.

The trust supported the physical healthcare of patients; for example mental health nurses were trained in tissue viability to meet the needs of patients on the ward. A physical healthcare practitioner provided expert support to mental health nurses and acted as a liaison with acute hospitals, to ensure that patients’ physical healthcare needs could be fully met before being transferred to a mental health hospital.

Discharge planning for patients started from the point of admission. Staff worked flexibly to adapt care and stretch existing boundaries to meet the needs of individual patients and their carers.

The report identifies a number of areas of good practice which include:

  • Two members of staff from the South Tyneside and Sunderland children and young people’s service were piloting a new project designed to raise awareness and understanding of the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children at school.
  • The trust had introduced a street triage service in which mental health nurses accompany police officers to incidents where police believe people need immediate mental health support. This has significantly reduced the number of people who were detained by the police.
  • Staff working in substance misuse services were planning a recovery street film festival. The aim is to reduce stigma surrounding drug and alcohol problems by showing the public three short films of personal accounts of addiction and how people’s lives have changed.
  • After a five year review of incidents the trust had developed a computer application, updated each day, which allows staff to update their knowledge of incidents, including outcomes and any shared learning or changes to practice.

CQC carried out this announced inspection from 31 May to 10 June this year. The team included CQC inspectors and a variety of specialists: consultant psychiatrists, Mental Health Act reviewers, occupational therapists, social workers, registered nurses (adult, mental health and learning disabilities) and senior managers.


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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.