OXFORD’S John Radcliffe Hospital has been praised by a watchdog two years after it was damned in consecutive inspections.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the hospital’s care of patients, cleanliness, staff levels and support for workers all met the grade.
Staff said lessons had been learned since the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust failed an inspection following “worrying” staff shortages and patient waiting times in 2011.
Later that year the Headington hospital was told to improve its food and the way it was served to patients. This was its first “routine” inspection since then.
It took place in February, with the CQC visiting one surgical and one medical ward in the main hospital and the women’s centre.
Inspectors spoke to 29 in-patients, five relatives and 38 staff, including doctors, nurses, midwives and managers.
The John Radcliffe Hospital, along with the Churchill in Oxford and Horton General in Banbury, is now run by the Oxford University Hospitals Trust.
A trust spokesman said: “We take the valuable feedback we gain from internal and external reviews, such as the CQC, and take the lessons learned into improving our training for staff, reviewing the quality and variety of food provided for patients as well as looking at appropriate staffing levels across the services.
“We are pleased that this is now reflected in the positive report we have just received for 2013 which shows we have met the four standards assessed during a routine visit by the CQC.”
Jacquie Pearce-Gervis, of Oxfordshire-based watchdog Patient Voice, said: “We would like to congratulate the trust on having turned things around.
“We hope they can maintain this improvement so the patients under their care continue to receive a high standard.”
The CQC said the hospital had introduced a new system to check patients’ welfare at regular intervals, which staff told them had cut the use of patients using buzzers to get attention.
It also found the hospital had “effective systems” in place to reduce the risk and spread of infection, with patients telling inspectors the hospital was “very clean”.
The CQC praised the John Radcliffe for providing safe and appropriate care, saying patients felt the hospital’s staff were “caring and attentive”.
They added patients said “there is a culture of politeness and making sure everyone is looked after here” and “the staff are there for you, even if you just need a chat”.
The report, however, said one midwife told inspectors: “The workload is only manageable because we don’t take our breaks. We have nearly no vacancies but the birth rate is continuing to rise.”
Sister Ginny Mountford said: “We are pleased the CQC result was positive and it reflects the efforts our team puts in on the ward to make things better for patients.”
A survey of almost 4,000 hospital staff in Oxfordshire reported by the Oxford Mail earlier this year found the number feeling unwell due to work-related stress had increased from 31 per cent in 2011 to 36 per cent last year.
WHERE THEY IMPROVED
The inspection focused on four out of the CQC’s 16 “essential standards”.
A CQC spokesman said the focus of inspections was determined by the “likely areas of risk”.
The four essential standards met by the John Radcliffe Hospital in the February CQC inspection:
People should get safe and appropriate care that meets their needs and supports their rights
People should be cared for in a clean environment and protected from the risk of infection
There should be enough members of staff to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs
Staff should be properly trained and supervised, and have the chance to develop and improve their skills
In 2011 the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust failed its CQC inspection on four of the then 21 “essential standards”:
Care and welfare of people who use services
Assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision
Then and now
2013: The report said most patients were happy with the quality and choice of food.
One patient said: “The food is very good, there’s a good selection and plenty of it.”
2011: Patients told the inspectors that the food was “terrible” and “awful”.
2013: The report found that although staff were at times “very stretched”, there were “enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs”.
2011: The CQC found there were “insufficient numbers and types of staff” in many parts of the trust.