Chief Inspector of Hospital welcomes improvements at Dorset County Hospital

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has welcomed improvements in the quality of services for patients during an inspection of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. As a result of the inspection, the Trust is now rated as Good overall.
Photo of outside of Dorset County Hospital
A team of inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited the trust during July and August 2018 to check the quality of five core services: urgent and emergency care, maternity, end of life care, outpatients, and diagnostic imaging at Dorset County Hospital and Weymouth Community Hospital. CQC also looked specifically at management and leadership to answer the key question: Is the Trust well led?   
Previously, in March 2016, the Trust was rated Good for being caring and Requires Improvement for being safe, effective, responsive and well led.  As a result of this inspection, the Trust is now rated as Good for being effective, caring, responsive and well led and remains Requires Improvement for being safe. The Trust is now rated as Good overall.
End of life care has now improved. Inspectors found the leadership team had improved following the last inspection in March 2016 from Inadequate to Good, and there were more clinical staff in the service. The specialist palliative care team were working closely with the local hospice who found clinical expertise was always available from the hospital. However, not all patients’ records were as comprehensive as they should have been.   
Since the last inspection in March 2016 there have been significant improvements in urgent and emergency care. A change in the leadership has helped improve the department with a greater focus on service delivery, quality and performance. Staff had addressed previous areas of improvement such as infection control practices. The culture in the department had improved and staff were now being supported to develop, and their contributions were valued.  
There were still occasions when consultant cover was not always available and inspectors observed that staff did not always acknowledge patients as they arrived in the department by ambulance.
CQC inspected maternity services as a standalone service for the first time and rated the service as Good. Previously maternity services were rated alongside gynaecology, when they were rated as Requires Improvement. On this inspection, all areas were rated as Good except safe, which remained Requires Improvement. In that area were some concerns around the cleaning of equipment and management of medicines. However, there were good staffing levels and comprehensive birth plans for women.

Dr Nigel Acheson, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals for the south, said: "
Since we last inspected, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has worked incredibly hard to improve in most areas and I want to congratulate them from moving from Requires Improvement to achieving their overall Good rating. However, there are some areas that still need work. In urgent and emergency care, maternity services and outpatients, staff were not up to date with their mandatory training. Some safety improvements had been made to the room in A&E for patients with mental health needs. However, there were remaining risks for the safety of those patients, particularly regarding ligature points and safety of furnishings. 
Our inspectors found a Board that was experienced and skilled who had a strong vision for the organisation and embedded values. They understood the challenges to providing high-quality, sustainable services. They were supported by a committed, caring workforce who treated patients with compassion and dignity while providing them with the emotional support they needed. 
We will return at a later date to check on the further progress the trust has made."


Download the CQC's full report on Dorset County Hospital

It's good news that Dorset County Hospital has been given an overall Good rating by the Care Quality Commission. Many patients and their families give us positive feedback about the care they receive from the hospital. At the same time, there are, as this CQC report identifies, also areas that still need to be improved on. We look forward to continuing to work with the hospital to help them learn from their patients' experiences and make services even better in the future.
— Joyce Guest, Chair, Healthwatch Dorset

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