COLCHESTER General Hospital is on the mend and has been taken out of special measures.

The ruling comes after a four-day inspection by health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.

The Turner Road hospital was first put into special measures, almost exactly four years ago.

During the fresh inspection - three days in July and one day in August - inspectors found the majority of the trust’s services were good and none were inadequate.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Colchester General Hospital..Front main entrance.

It is an achievement which is being hailed as a turning point for the hospital.

However, despite the glowing report - which shows three out of the key five areas rated as good - the trust’s overall rating has only been elevated to requiring improvement.

Trust chief executive Nick Hulme said: “This is a significant achievement and I would like to personally thank our staff for everything they’ve done to improve the care we provide.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Board meeting - the first after Ipswich Hospital Trust joined with Colchester, Chief Excutive, Nick Hulme, .Postgraduate Medical Centre, Colchester General Hospital..

Chief executive Nick Hulme

“We have had excellent support from our partners in the health and social care system locally as well as from the NHS in the region and I am grateful for that.

“A strongly performing hospital is simply a better place to work as well as a better place to be treated.”

He added: “When I arrived in 2016, I said this is about more than just the CQC and we needed to concentrate on doing the right thing for our patients.

“Today’s news shows that patient-focused services deliver better care.”

The report shows a remarkable turnaround for the hospital, with three quarters of the 40 areas inspected now graded as good.

Just one year ago, 15 areas were rated as inadequate. This year, there were none.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: special measures rag outs

How we reported the hospital being plunged into special measure in 2013

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: special measures rag outs

End of life care has moved from inadequate in every area to good in every area while surgery has moved to good in four out of five areas having been rated as inadequate in three areas last year.

Inspectors also singled out the hospital’s dedicated children’s transition team and the work of staff in its neonatal unit for high praise.

David White, chairman of the trust , said: “We know we still have challenges ahead and improvements to make.

“However, I think we’ve shown that staff here at Colchester really can do it and we have a strong platform now for continued quality improvement.”

Mr White added the challenge for the trust now was to maintain high standards throughout “what will undoubtedly be a tough winter”.

Colchester MP Will Quince praised hospital staff.

He said: “This is fantastic news for the people of Colchester and north east Essex and a turning point in the trust’s recent history.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: will quince.

“Our hospital provides services that we all rely on in moments of need and I’m sure I speak for all of us who live in this area when I extend my congratulations and thanks to all its staff.”

Clacton MP Giles Watling added: “I’m so delighted the hospital has come out of special measures.

“In the run up to the Clacton by-election in 2014 I met with hospital chiefs about this – it has taken a long time, but we are finally served by a good hospital.

“I am also looking forward to the merger of the Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, I think that will only be a good thing for people in our area.”

'Stability is the key'

THE management team at Colchester’s hospital has been praised by the head of the country’s healthcare watchdog. 

Professor Ted Baker, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said the team assembled by chief executive Nick Hulme has created a stability which was “not previously seen”. 

Since the hospital was plunged into special measures in 2013, there have been five chief executives at the helm.

Dr Gordon Coutts resigned in December 2013 and was replaced by interim boss Kim Hodgson between January 2014 and May 2014.

Dr Lucy Moore was subsequently appointed on a longer-term basis but left the trust in 2015.

Accountant Frank Sims was appointed in September 2015 and was replaced by Mr Hulme in May 2016. 

Prof Baker said: “I am very pleased to be able to recommend that Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation trust exits special measures.

“When we returned to conduct our inspection we found considerable improvements had taken place. 

“We found a strong leadership team, which engaged positively with a staff that was committed to ensuring change took place and we witnessed significant improvements across all of the trust’s services. 

“The chief executive and managing director had created stability in the senior executive team that we had not previously seen. 

“We also saw many examples of managers and senior staff who were motivated and engaged in seeking solutions to drive through further improvement.”

He added: “While there is still work to be done at the trust, reflected in its overall rating of requires improvement, there is no doubt that much positive change has taken place. 

“This is testament to the hard work and commitment of staff and the trust’s leadership, and they are to be congratulated for what they have achieved.

“The trust knows what it must now do to ensure this work is maintained and to make sure the remaining improvements take place. 

“We will return to check on its progress.”

The hospital was initially placed in special measures amid concerns over cancer patient waiting times.

Those concerns were investigated but no evidence of manipulation was found.

However, subsequent inspections highlighted further concerns, which inspectors say had never been fully addressed.