Combined Healthcare welcomes new CQC rating as a 'Good' organisation and launches drive 'Towards Outstanding'

21 Feb 2017

  • CQC praises the Trust for "significant improvements" and says it can be "proud" of services that are effective, caring, responsive and well-led
  • CQC said: "Staff throughout the Trust displayed a caring attitude towards people who used services. Feedback from patients, carers and families was also very positive and staff ensured that delivery of care was carried out in a co-productive manner
  • Building on this success, the Trust today announces the next stage of its journey of improvement - 'Towards Outstanding'
The Care Quality Commission has today rated North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust as a 'Good' organisation, following its inspection in September 2016.   The Trust was previously inspected in September 2015 when it was rated as Requires Improvement overall.Inspectors rated the care provided by staff to be 'Good' regarding whether services were effective, caring, responsive and well-led.   

The CQC said that it was confident that the executive team, with the support of their staff, will deliver improvements on behalf of all of their patients in these minority of areas where it found them to be necessary and has agreed to a request from the Trust to return to check on the progress that they have made.  The Trust has already taken action to address these issues since the inspection.

The Care Quality Commission found:

  • Significant improvements had been made to the quality of care plans and risk assessments.
  • The Trust showed a consistently collaborative approach to care that involved staff, patients, carers and families.
  • Staff throughout the Trust displayed a caring attitude towards people who used services, showing kindness, empathy and putting peoples’ needs first.
  • Feedback from patients, carers and families was also very positive and staff ensured that delivery of care was carried out in a co-productive manner.
  • The Trust Board has become more settled and effective which helped to ensure governance systems were embedded.
  • Nursing staff spoke very highly of the new substantive Director of Nursing. Staff told us that they now felt they had strong nursing leadership at a senior level in the organisation who was committed to clinical and leadership development.

 The reports highlight several areas of good practice, including:

  • The Trust had done impressive work around deaf and hard of hearing patient groups; particularly the deaf café, British sign language (BSL) training for staff and effectively addressing communication needs.
  • The Mental Health and Vascular Wellbeing team manager had published a paper on the use of a camera for people with short term memory problems. They have since worked with the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) to incorporate the use of text messaging service and were working on an ‘app’ for patients’ with early onset dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
  • The Care Home Liaison team held multi-disciplinary meetings at five care homes. GPs and families reported that this worked well. The input of physiotherapy into care homes with patients at risk of falls had reduced hospital admissions.
  • The community child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) had run a ‘CAMHS in schools’ project with special schools for the past 11 years. They had developed a pilot to introduce the model into mainstream schools.
  • A military veterans drop-in service had been established. Managers allocated one member of staff two days a week to develop this. It has succeeded quickly and, at the time of our inspection, had a caseload of 42 patients.

Commenting on the CQC findings, Chief Executive Caroline Donovan said today:

"I’m both delighted and proud to be able to officially welcome the results of our recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission. After an extensive process - our second full inspection in two years - the CQC has rated Combined Healthcare NHS Trust as a Good Organisation - with some of our services rated as 'outstanding'.

"This is a remarkable achievement by our entire staff - from the front line, through support functions and back office, to senior management and our Board.

"It is also, I believe, a fair and powerful endorsement of the improvements in outcomes, effectiveness, safety and leadership that Combined Healthcare has achieved as a result of our determined and thorough improvement journey that we commenced over two years ago.

"I was particularly heartened to hear from the CQC that they thought the improvements that we’ve managed to secure are amongst the most remarkable in terms of their speed of any they have seen in the NHS. I know that our staff will be particularly grateful for that recognition and endorsement.

"It is, I believe, no fluke and no accident that our people and staff are regularly and consistently shortlisted, nominated and winning awards across the NHS.

The CQC rated the Trust as Requires Improvement regarding whether services are safe, mainly due to improvements required to rapid tranquilisation policy and the need to improve the number of young people seen within 18 weeks of referral.  Commenting on this, Caroline Donovan said:

"We do recognise that there are still improvements to be made in a minority of our services. The work to secure these improvements is already underway and I’m grateful that the CQC has agreed to return to assure and officially recognise the improvements we are now going to secure.  The only service the CQC found to be requiring improvement out of 11 services was our community services for children and young people.

"Working with our commissioner colleagues, we have made over £1 million extra investment in our CAMHS community services and we are ahead of our target to ensure that by the end of March no young person using our core CAMHS services will be forced to wait beyond 18 weeks. We will continue to reduce the waiting time for assessment down to four weeks.

"Being good is, by definition, good. But being good is not the limit of our ambitions for Combined Healthcare. Today we make clear that our clear, simple and determined ambition and vision is “To be outstanding” - in all we do and in how we do it. 

"Our Towards Outstanding improvement programme will encompass and bring together everything that we do – our services, our people, our leadership, our listening and engagement, our involvement of service users and carers, our staff development and training.  By bringing everything together in one unified programme of improvement, we are confident we will reach our aim.

"Put simply we will “become outstanding by being Combined”.


The Care Quality Commission 2017 ratings for North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust Services are as follows: