Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has submitted its Standards for Better Health self-declaration – part of the Annual Health Check that replaces star ratings. Forty-four different aspects of hospital services are measured, not only for their effectiveness, but for the quality of record-keeping and administrative systems.
Overall, the Trust was able to reach 38 standards out of the 44 by the end of 2006/07 – up from 22 the previous year. However, 14 are still officially classified as ‘not met’ because the improvements only came during the financial year, not right from the beginning. The total number met from the beginning of 2006/07 was 24,
One area where the Trust has achieved a ‘fully met’ status, having failed to do so last year, is major-incident planning, which involved working with partners such as the police, fire brigade and ambulance trust. A key department that continued to improve was Facilities, which deals with all aspects of its buildings and utilities. As its area of responsibility includes a number of sites across North Devon, this is a considerable feat, thanks to a continuous effort by staff to constantly review existing practice and collect and record the necessary evidence.
The Trust has invested heavily to make improvements where standards were classified as ‘not met’ in 2006. One of the lessons learnt from last year was that, although the services to patients might be of high quality, the rating would still be ‘not met’ if there were insufficient records to demonstrate this.
In the category of Dignity and Respect, for example, the Trust has scored ‘not met’ for the second year, because it has more work to do on equality and diversity. At the same time, it is achieving well on the privacy and dignity elements. This is supported by the finding of the Healthcare Commission’s latest in-patient survey which rates the Trust amongst the best 20% in the country for the issues such as ‘Did the nurses talk in front of you as if you weren’t there?’ and ‘Were you given enough privacy when being examined or treated?’.
Improvements came at a time when the Trust was undergoing major reorganisation. Having previously run only North Devon District Hospital, last autumn it took over management of services from North Devon PCT, including the five community hospitals at Bideford, Torrington, South Molton, Holsworthy and Ilfracombe, the Lynton Resource Centre, specialities based at Barnstaple Health Centre, and community health services such as district nursing, and health visiting.
Jac Kelly, Interim Chief Executive said: “We’ve invested a huge amount in improving our performance. Our staff have been fantastic in their efforts, not just to raise standards but to show that standards are rising.
“Standards for Better Health has been instrumental to this Trust, providing us with a systematic way of analysing our services and highlighting those which needed further improvement.
“We’ve also taken the opportunity to include the Trust’s non-executive directors closely in the Standards for Better Health analysis, to help ensure that our self-assessments have been extremely rigorous and honest. “Our Clinical Governance department has worked hard with managers across the Trust over the past year to help them raise standards, and to capture the evidence in support of that.
“The fact that we can’t claim to have hit some of the standards for the whole 12-month period is frustrating. But if we sustain this level of improvement, we’re confident that local people will see a big jump forward next year.”