Lincolnshire’s health watchdog has said it is “disappointing” but “not unexpected” that the county’s hospitals remain in special measures.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire said the organisation has already made contact with United Lincolnshire hospitals Trust to see how it can support the trust.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission announced this morning that ULHT will remain in special measures following recent inspections at both Lincoln and Boston Pilgrim Hospitals.
Bosses at the trust have said they are “determined” to make “significant improvements”.
But, Healthwatch said staffing levels at the trust remain a “pivotal concern” for the watchdog.
A spokesperson for Healthwatch said: “On behalf of Lincolnshire patient’s, today’s announcement from CQC with the publication of their latest report, stating that the trust have remained in special measures, is disappointing.
“However, with challenges we know they face it is not unexpected.
“Staffing levels and the impact this has on services is well known and despite best efforts to recruit new staff this remains a pivotal concern. We are however really pleased to hear that caring remains good.
“We have already made contact with ULHT to consider proactive ways in which Healthwatch can support patient dialogue and share some of messages from the trust to patients.”
The watchdog added that it would also be in contact with regulator, NHS Improvement, on how it intends to address “ongoing challenges” at Lincolnshire’s health trusts.
Meanwhile, Councillor Carl Macey, chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel for Lincolnshire, said changes to address issues in the region’s health service have been “frustratingly slow”.
“Although the latest report is disappointing, it’s not entirely surprising given that we know changes are needed to address a variety of issues across the health service in Lincolnshire,” he said.
“These have been and continue to be, frustratingly slow in getting off the ground to provide the level of staffing, facilities and standards that Lincolnshire residents deserve.
“However the report does reflect that the staff working in the trust are providing a caring service to patients – something we often see and hear about as councillors.”
The scrutiny panel will hear from ULHT bosses on the report at a meeting in November.
Trust ‘requires improvement’, says inspectors
Following the CQC report, ULHT has kept its overall rating of “requires improvement”.
The trust has been in special measures since 2017 and is also in financial special measures.
Inspectors raised concern over staffing levels at both Lincoln and Boston hospitals and the length of time some services took for treatment.
Urgent and emergency care at Pilgrim Hospital was “of significant concern” and inspectors were worried that children and young people’s service was rated “inadequate” overall.
The CQC acknowledged that the trust faced challenges over resources, including a “significant deficit” in its funding.
Following the report the trust has been told it must make improvements including to its executive and staff leadership team, staff understanding and respect and workforce numbers, performance and training.
It has also been told that it “must ensure all patients who attend the urgent and emergency care department at Lincoln County Hospital are admitted, transferred and discharged from the department within four hours”.
Andrew Morgan, chief executive at ULHT, said the trust was “disappointed” with the outcome of the report.
“We are determined to take this feedback and make significant improvements across the trust, for the benefit of our staff and patients,” he said.
He said a “comprehensive quality and safety improvement plan” had been put in place.
Calvin Robinson , Local Democracy Reporting Service