Staff praised as hospital trust sees year of successes
It has been a year of success for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) despite a number of challenges, including seeing its busiest winter on record.
The Bury St Edmunds-based organisation, which runs hospital and community services, received the highest overall rating of ‘outstanding’ following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in January.
Rated ‘good’ in March 2016, the CQC found improvements had been made during its visit in November and December 2017 - during a period which saw record numbers of A&E attendances and admissions to West Suffolk Hospital.
WSFT chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn praised staff for their role in the trust’s outstanding rating.
“It is something that we are really proud of an we have some excellent, hard working and committed staff who I believe are supported to go the extra mile for patients and deliver some exceptional quality. And I think that was recognised by the CQC.
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“It gives the staff a boost despite the ongoing challenges that we continue to face. We’re not immune from those challenges and just because we’re outstanding does not mean we are perfect. We don’t always get it right, equally sometimes we do have challenging days, weeks, and months occasionally, but it is quite clear we do have some exceptional outcomes.”
The WSFT was also recently shown to be the best performing area in the country for minimising the amount of time patients stay in hospital longer than they need to.
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Figures from NHS England showed the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area had fewer excess bed delays – the term used to describe where people are still in hospital when they no longer need to be – for its size of population than any other CCG in the country.
During a visit to the hospital in July, the then retiring CQC chief executive Sir David Behan spoke of a culture at the hospital which he said made it stand out.
Dr Dunn said he believes a strong culture has been created because staff “are embedded in our local community”.
He said: “I think we take a real pride in delivering the best outcomes for the community and we get great support from the local community in terms of volunteers, help with our charity, in support as part of our foundation trust membership and really positive support from those who attend our hospital.
“Patients are really good at praising staff when they deliver exceptional service and that really makes a difference when staff receive thank you cards from the public and they take even more pride in what they do.
“The other week, I caught one of our orthopaedic surgeons going to check on a neighbour who had an operation at the hospital. I thought that was a great example of somebody going the extra mile for our local community.”
The Beast from the East and a prolonged period of hot weather has brought pressures but Dr Dunn said working closely with community services have helped the trust to come out on top.
“It has been a challenging period and I think we have been trying to do lots to improve the care that we give and the timeliness of services and access to services that we provide,” he said, “We’ve had a real push across the hospital. A campaign we call from red to green, that is to make sure that everyday is a green day where something active happens which progresses someone’s treatment and gets them closer to be discharged to home or the community.
“And that whole hospital focus on red to green and regular board level and effective treatments has resulted in us shaving a day off the length of stay.
“We are also now running community services and local community hospitals and that closer working flexibility is helping us. We are also investing in 20 community beds at a local care home called Glastonbury Court, and that has expanded our capacity.”
Gestures to staff have also helped, he said.
“We celebrate the success, outcomes and achievements of our staff and I think that is reciprocated by our staff going the extra mile which the CQC highlighted.
“When we had the Beast from the East we gave every member of staff a free cup of coffee. Over the summer months when we’ve had some exceptionally hot days in the hospital, we have given out free ice lollies. These are small gestures that mean a lot and convey to our staff that we do care.”