Morecambe Bay hospitals still ‘require improvement' following latest inspection by health watchdog

The improvements to services and leadership made by teams across University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) have been recognised in an inspection report, published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) today, Wednesday (August 23) 2023.
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On April 4 and 5 2023, inspectors from the CQC carried out an unannounced inspection of Medicine at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and Maternity services at Furness General Hospital (FGH) and the RLI.

The inspection team returned between May 15 to 18 2023 to carry out the well led aspect of the inspection, which assesses the leadership, management and governance of the organisation.

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The Trust’s overall Trust rating remains ‘requires improvement’ - as does the rating for safety, effectiveness and responsiveness.

Royal Lancaster Infirmary. Photo: Kelvin StuttardRoyal Lancaster Infirmary. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Royal Lancaster Infirmary. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The rating for caring also remains as good with inspectors noting that: “Patients said staff treated them well and with kindness”.

The Trust rating for well-led has improved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’.

The Inspectors identified many examples of good practice in all areas.

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The report also notes two examples of ‘outstanding practice’ in maternity services with award winning development of HOPE boxes for those women who were separated from their babies either temporarily or permanently; and the multi-disciplinary approach to planning complex births that may require input from safeguarding, children’s services and mental health services.

Furness General Hospital.Furness General Hospital.
Furness General Hospital.

There were also areas identified where the Trust needs to further improve, including:

*The effectiveness and timeliness of the complaints process

*Ensuring adequate numbers of midwives and clinical colleagues with the right skill mix in maternity services

*Pursue the plans to develop and invest in pharmacy workforce to improve performance

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*Ensuring there is a clear protocol for identifying women for prioritisation of induction of labour and that it is recorded in the care records

*Consistently achieving completion targets for mandatory training in all areas.

Aaron Cummins, Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “This report is a very welcome sign that we are on the right path. The dedication, passion and tenacity of our colleagues has led to some significant improvements in our services over the last 18 months and I am extremely pleased that that was witnessed first-hand by the inspectors that visited our Trust earlier this year.

“We all know that the NHS has seen significant challenges recently with COVID-19 recovery, various incidences of industrial action, and increasing pressure on services. The fact that our teams have not only managed to maintain safe services during this period, but improve them, is testament to the kind of people we have working here.

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“Whilst we are rightly pleased to see the improvements recognised by the inspectors, we are by no means where we need or want to be. Inspectors noted areas where we still need to improve, including taking our culture and leadership development work further, handling and responding to concerns and complaints in a more effective and responsive way, and ensuring that we see actions through to make sure we know that they are still making a positive difference in the coming weeks, months and years.”

Following the Trust’s previous inspection in 2021, the CQC imposed regulatory conditions on the Trust’s license for stroke services at FGH and the RLI and maternity services at both FGH and the RLI.