North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, (NCIC) is undertaking a series of changes following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection undertaken earlier this year.

The fledgling trust came into being a year ago through the merger of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which followed several years of persistent financial and other challenges.

At the beginning of 2020, NCIC set out on an ambitious two year clinically led programme to address the historic difficulties that have beset many of the area’s hospitals and services, by getting back to basics and putting clinicians at the heart of decision-making.

The programme to put in place the systems, processes, training and development which the merged organisation needs to flourish and thrive, has been slowed by the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19.

The focused CQC inspection took place in August and September 2020 in response to risks around a number of the areas which the trust’s plan is focussed on improving.

In its report published today, the CQC acknowledges the trust’s detailed action plan to tackle the improvements that need to be made, and the significant advances have been already achieved. The report does not change the Trust’s overall rating of Requires Improvement.

Lyn Simpson, who was appointed as Chief Executive earlier this year, said:

“The report shows that the plans we have in place are the right ones, but the pace of change has been too slow.

“We are a relatively new organisation coming together at a time of global pandemic but the bravery and hard work of all our staff, and the efforts and sacrifices of our communities, require that services for patients emerge stronger from COVID-19.

“Importantly, we have already taken swift action to deliver rapid improvements in patient safety.  The inspection in the summer enabled us to identify immediate actions we needed to take to ensure patients can access appropriate care and treatment in a more timely way.” 

Anna Stabler, Chief Nurse said:

“Since December last year, we have put in place plans to significantly improve our staffing, and have brought in over 100 agency nurses to give us additional capacity while longer term plans are put in place.  We are making good progress on international recruitment with 37 nurses due to be live on the wards by the end of March, and have focussed on growing our own by supporting over 100 people on our apprentice nurse programmes.  We are also implementing a more sustainable plan for clinical staffing and have approved and advertised for additional clinical staffing in the emergency departments.

“Since the inspection in the summer, we have made improvements in triage and ambulance handover times, particularly ensuring clinical oversight where we do experience delays. We are also taking action to improve the flow of patients within the hospital and improve the quality of record keeping.”

You can access the full report via the CQC website on Friday 27th November.