Weekend Diagnosis: Care and Quality matters

Published: 10 June 2016

Mairead McAlindenThis Weekend Diagnosis is from Mairead McAlinden, our Chief Executive

In February we had an announced Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection and the report on that visit was published this week. We welcome this report, it tells of many examples of excellent care, and rates our staff as ‘outstanding’ for caring. The CQC inspectors said that they showed kindness, compassion, dignity and respect in caring for people who need our services. This is what I see and hear about every day, and I am really pleased that this has been recognised by CQC.

There is much to celebrate. CQC assessed 12 out of 19 of our services as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. However, we are not complacent – we set very high standards for our care – and we know there are areas where we need to do better. So as a new integrated health and social care organisation, established only last October, we assessed ourselves as ‘requiring improvement’ and this is consistent with the CQC overall rating for our Trust.

We are working hard on the areas we need to improve, and the CQC report provides a focus for this work. We have already addressed many of the issues raised, but there are areas where we have long-standing challenges. We have large numbers of people seeking treatment at our emergency department and acute medical care services in Torbay Hospital, and sometimes they can experience delays for care. We are working on reducing these delays. We have put new services in place, such as our ambulatory service for children and for people referred by their GP, which enables them to bypass our emergency department, and we have permanently staffed an extra ward to make sure we have beds available when people are acutely unwell and need to be admitted for care.

Many other changes have been made, and we are improving – 85 percent of people who need urgent care are assessed, treated, discharged or admitted within four hours – but we need to do more. So this year we are investing almost £4 million in new services in our local communities, working with our GP colleagues and our voluntary sector partners to provide new and better organised local services. They will provide additional support to people with complex needs, seeking to prevent the need to come to hospital to get the care they need. This is what local people say they want, and what we are committed to deliver.

This change will take time, and we need the trust of our staff, our partners and our local communities to do this. Standing still or doing more of the same is not the best way to deal with the growing demand for care, and our staff cannot work any harder, so we must work differently.

Services in Torbay Hospital and across our community health and social care system have a well deserved reputation for safe, quality care, and our staff work well together to manage risk and minimise delays – I am grateful to them for their commitment and care. No system is perfect but we know the safety of our care is good, and we are striving to be better.

CQC will undertake another inspection early next year, and we are working hard to improve our rating to ‘good’ while aspiring to be ‘outstanding’.

So while the CQC report sets out areas where we require improvement, and we are working on those, please also look at the very many positives highlighted in this report. People say how they value and appreciate the excellence of our care, and staff have been commended for delivering person centred care and excellent patient, relative and carer communication. We do need to make changes and improve but I am also incredibly proud of our staff and the services they provide.