NHS Trust that runs Airedale General Hospital improves rating - despite staffing issues and areas in 'disrepair'

Airedale General Hospital near Keighley, West Yorks. Picture: rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather.
Airedale General Hospital near Keighley, West Yorks. Picture: rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather.

The NHS Trust that runs Airedale General Hospital in Keighley has improved its overall watchdog rating – despite still not having enough suitable staff and some areas of the facility being in disrepair when inspected.

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has rated the services run by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust as Requires Improvement after a visit by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

However, combined with the trust’s Use of Resources review undertaken by NHS Improvement, which looked into whether resources were being used productively, the overall rating for the trust is now Good.

The latest CQC inspection carried out in November and December 2018 looked at five key areas, each of which was rated the same as an April 2017 inspection, when poor staffing was highlighted as a concern in some clinical areas.

During the follow-up visit there were “still issues with the trust not having enough suitably qualified and experienced staff to meet patient needs, and nurse staffing was not safe consistently,” said the CQC yesterday.

It added: “There were also concerns identified with the lack of quality audits, and some areas of the hospital were seen to be in disrepair.”

Despite the concerns, inspectors also saw that staff approached patients in a friendly and professional manner, treating them with dignity and respect, and patients told inspectors they felt well-informed about their care. The trust was also found to be working hard to reduce the length of time patients stayed in hospital and worked well with other care providers to ensure a strong continuity of care for patients entering into community care.

The trust was rated as Requires Improvement in the categories of safe and well-led, as well as overall. Other key areas of effective, caring and responsive were rated Good – mirroring the ratings of the previous inspection in April 2017 for its quality of care.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “At our latest inspection we found that some previously reported concerns, such as nursing and medical staffing, still remained and was impacting on patient care.

“Also, we felt that leaders in some areas were not governing effectively and not always clear regarding their accountability for quality.

“That being said, we did see that patients’ needs came first and staff worked hard to deliver the best possible care with compassion and respect.”

The Trust’s chief executive Brendan Brown said: “The CQC’s report highlighted a number of areas where we need to improve, and we are already making headway.

“We want to be able to consolidate this Good rating across all our areas when we’re inspected again later this year.”

The Trust also runs Castleberg Hospital in Giggleswick, Settle, and Skipton General Hospital

Meanhile, Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust’s Requires Improvement rating by the CQC remains unchanged after follow-up inspections, it was announced yesterday.

Inspectors conducted a visit to the trust’s urgent and emergency services after a previous inspection in December 2017.

The latest visit on November 27 and 29 last year found that service at Doncaster Royal Infirmary requires improvement, as does urgent and emergency services at Bassetlaw District Hospital.

Staffing remained an issue across both hospitals, said the watchdog.