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Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is awarded Outstanding rating by Chief Inspector of Hospitals

20 April 2016
  • Media,
  • Hospitals

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has named Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation trust as the third acute trust to be awarded a rating of Outstanding after its inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

  • Factors that contributed to the Outstanding rating included:
  • A clear and consistent focus on safety
  • Demonstrably delivering care that is based on the needs of patients
  • Trust wide learning from incidents and complaints exceptional leadership

Inspectors rated St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester and Worthing Hospital as Outstanding. Their accident and emergency, medical care, end of life care, maternity and gynaecology and services for children each being rated as Outstanding. The smaller Southland Hospital in Shoreham-by-Sea has been rated as Good overall, with surgery and outpatients and diagnostic also rated as Good.

A team of CQC inspectors and specialists including doctors, nurses, managers and experts by experience spent four days at the trust in December 2015. Full reports of the inspection, are available from Wednesday 20 April at

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

“Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation aspires to be one of the best patient-centred services in the National Health Service, with a trust-wide mantra of patients first. We found that this ambition was understood and embedded in the practice of staff across all professions and at all levels.

”The trust focuses first on improving quality and safety. Staff and patients who we met during this inspection spoke positively about the patient journey and the striving for continual improvement.

“We found a clear focus on quality improvement, innovation and safety, starting even before patients are admitted. Services are clearly designed to meet the needs of individuals, with services providing continuity of care from the hospital into the community. I congratulate the trust and all its staff on this Outstanding rating.”

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

The degree of attention to people’s individual needs across the hospital. The work of the learning disabilities nurse specialists, the neonatal outreach nurses and the specialist palliative care team were particularly notable.

In the critical care unit the staff remained focussed on the person and not the technology, with long term patient using a wheelchair if required to allow them to access other areas of the hospital outside the ward, to help them maintain a sense of normality.

Staff encouraged fathers to stay overnight on the postnatal ward to provide support to their partner and to begin the bonding process with their baby.

The trust-wide learning from incidents and complaints was well embedded. In all areas of the hospital, staff could give examples of where improvements had been made as a result of complaints, comments or incidents.

The executive team provided exceptional leadership and had a good understanding of how the hospital was working in both the longer term (through a sound assurance framework) and on a day-to-day basis (through a regular ward and department presence and open door sessions). There was clear teamwork amongst the executive team and their positive leadership style filtered down to middle managers and local managers.

CQC received an unprecedented number of letters and emails from people who used the service before during and after the inspection. Patients told stories of staff going above and beyond the expected level of care. Inspectors found that staff were exceptionally compassionate when talking about patients and showed kindness not only towards patients but towards each other.

Volunteers were keen to tell inspectors about how much they enjoyed working at the hospital, feeling accepted as part of the hospital team. Those working in clinical areas described a sense of belonging and felt their work including helping people to eat and drink or occupying elderly patients was valued.

Inspectors found areas where improvements were needed including:

Staffing levels were generally appropriate but consultant numbers in emergency departments and critical care were below recommended levels. Some patients were waiting too long for treatment. In outpatients departments a significant number of appointments were being cancelled.

CQC has told the trust it should review the levels of medical and nursing staff on each shift in critical care, in line with established national guidelines. The hospital should also consider the working practices of existing senior physicians during the pilot phase of a telemedicine model of care.

Sir Mike said:

“Our report indicates some excellent practice in the design of services notably in children's services and in end of life care. However, flow of patients through critical care and the waiting times for treatment in surgery and outpatients do require improvement.

“I am confident that Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will now build on the findings from this inspection to address these issues and to continue to set an example which others can learn from.”

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


Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides emergency care and treatment to a population of more than 450,000 with around 127,000 inpatient admissions, 533,000 outpatients and 135,000 patients attending accident and emergency each year. 


Western Sussex Hospitals is the third NHS acute trust to be rated as Outstanding since CQC started to publish ratings in March 2014.


Under CQC’s programme of inspections, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading inspection teams, headed up by clinical and other experts including experts by experience. 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.