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Trust welcomes Care Quality Commission report

County Durham and Darlington NHS Fooundation Trust has welcomed the publication of the Care Quality Commission's report following its inspection in February.

The CQC has given an overall rating of 'requires improvement'.  It is useful to set this overall rating in a wider context. The Trust scored 'good' in 80% of the indicators measured and it is encouraging to note that the organisation is better positioned comparatively to similar trusts with the same rating. Indeed, it has proportionately less areas that require improving than some trusts rated as good.

At a Quality Summit event on Friday (25 September) - an event held as part of the CQC process to report on their findings and provide the Trust with an opportunity to feedback on actions taken and those underway - the CQC and stakeholders agreed that given the Trust's position, we should now be setting out plans to take the organisation to 'outstanding' within the next two years.

Chief Executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Sue Jacques said: "The CQC report is a valuable source of information providing us with feedback not just from independent assessors but also from our patients and staff.

"It was pleasing that the inspection recognised our caring and compassionate staff and the respect and dignity with which our patients are treated. Across the organisation, we scored 'good' in 80% of the indicators and received a 'good' overall rating for our community services. However, we recognise there are areas where improvements can be made.

"We have not been standing still since the inspection in February and because the CQC assessment is broadly in line with our own self-assessment it means we have already made good progress in areas where it was identified that improvements could be made and we have action plans in place to continue delivering further improvements.

"Looking at how we have performed relative to other similar trusts that have been inspected, by addressing all of our agreed actions an overall score of 'good' is well within our reach and we are working with partners to aim to be 'outstanding' within the next few years- which is what we all want to be offering to our patients."

Areas of good practice singled out in the report include:

  • An exceptionally caring critical care service in Darlington, where inspectors observed individualised care and attention to detail given to patients and relatives. This was shown by the trust's work with the end of life team, its visitor's charter, care of patients with learning disabilities, and implementation and consideration of the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLs). In addition, memory bands were used for patients and their relatives.
  • There was consistently positive feedback from patients and relatives about community nursing teams, with care being described as 'excellent'.
  • The dietetics team was committed to improving nutrition, with the work it had undertaken being published and shared nationally.
  • The County Durham Rapid Early Specialist Team (CREST) service provided early senior and multidisciplinary assessment for frail older people, which facilitated safe, early, supported discharge, and managed patients with an anticipated short length of stay.
  • Staff on ward 52 DMH had recently been awarded the 'Quality mark for elder-friendly hospital wards'.

Key areas where we are making improvements based on the report include:

  • Accident and Emergency and urgent care - where we are reviewing our consultant and paediatric nursing levels, and are increasing our urgent care staffing. We are also increasing our cleaning.
  • End of life - where we have appointed a lead to support the service and work with the senior MacMillan Nurse and medical consultant clinical lead in providing operational leadership, and will be strengthening our palliative care service
  • Governance and strategy - where we are reviewing our complaints process and peer reviewing our complaints responses
  • Medicine and Non Invasive Ventilation -  where we have changed our arrangements for looking after patients who are being ventilated and carried out additional staff training to strengthen our support to these patients
  • Record keeping, care planning and ward management - where we are now rolling out electronic observations to our wards and where we have introduced new admission and care planning documentation
  • Children's and safeguarding - where we have increased training of community based staff so that they are all compliant, and agreed a  Board lead for children.

Full reports including ratings for all the trust's care services are available at

Ratings for University Hospital of North Durham

CQC UHND graphic

Ratings for Darlington Memorial Hospital

 CQC DMH graphic

Ratings for Community Health Services

CQC community services graphic

CQC comparative chart


'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we have this service at all and well done to you all.'

Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley Bridge Community Hospital