THE county’s hospital trust is set to come out of special measures for the first time in four years, but the chief executive has admitted there’s still a lot of work to do.

Matthew Hopkins, who took over at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in January, said the improvements highlighted in the latest Care Quality Commission report, published today, are “phenomenal”.

The trust, which oversees Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster and Alexandra Hospitals, is now rated as ‘requires improvement’ rather than ‘inadequate’ and the CEO hopes this is a small step towards rebuilding its reputation.

He said improving quality of care and “reducing costs and managing finances better” is a key focus going forward, admitting “we’ve got a lot to do” for the latter.

Efficiency, particularly when it comes to A&E, was highlighted by the inspectors, and Worcester MP Robin Walker feels the emergency department needs expanding going forward.

“The big challenge, in my view, the A&E is not big enough,” he said. “That’s the next big focus: to meet the capacity problems. Once that’s sorted, that will help with morale and recruiting specialist staff. That’s the crux of the issue and that’s something I’ve been banging on about for a number of years.”

Mr Hopkins said the NHS is still very much focused on “future proofing” and the long term expectation is for a greater need in A&Es across the country.

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He said in order to attract more government funding and potential expansion, his emergency departments need to demonstrate “better organisation” and “more efficiency”.

“The key areas for us are making sure patients in ambulances are not delayed and are coming into the emergency department the right way.”

He said emergency patients that “really need to come to hospital” must be “dealt with quickly and safely” while others are prevented from clogging up the system by reporting to the wrong places.

Mr Hopkins, who led Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust out of special measures in 2017, said that is the “key change” for Worcestershire.

And while there is still some work to do with partners before the trust comes out of special measures, he said it would “improve our ability to recruit people” that can move Worcestershire forward.

“We can then start to improve our reputation and demonstrate we are an environment people want to work in,” he added.

The list of improvements needed include staff completing safeguarding and life support training and assessing patient clinical need and delivering care within defined timescales.

Also, fit-for-purpose environments need properly maintaining and all departments need staffing adequately.

The trust needs to ensure ambulance handovers are timely and effective, and staff comply with hygiene, protection and infection prevention guidelines.

Finally, it must report all mixed sex breaches and maintain confidentiality in patient records.

Among the most significant improvements already in place included every single service across all hospitals are now rated at least ‘good’ for caring.

Services for children and young people at Worcestershire Royal Hospital went up from ‘requires improvement’ in 2017 to ‘good’.