HEREFORD County Hospital will come out of special measures, two years after it was rated inadequate.

Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals in the county, was placed in special measures in October 2014 after concerns were raised about A&E and medical care at the hospital in Hereford.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors labelled overall services as inadequate and were back at the hospital in July to review progress.

And England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has recommended that Wye Valley NHS Trust exits special measures following the July inspection. 

They found the trust had made improvements and it is now rated as Requires Improvement overall.

Following the release of the inspection report, and following the recommendation, NHS Improvement has agreed to lift the trust out of quality special measures.

The July inspection found that, while considerable progress had been made since 2014, further work was needed to address areas where the service fell short of the standards people should be able to expect. 

Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “There clearly remain areas where further work is needed, in particular with regard to the trust’s responsiveness in A&E, bed occupancy concerns and referral to treatment times, but we found considerable and positive change had taken place. Morale had significantly improved and there was a sense of pride amongst staff towards working in the hospital who felt respected and valued.

“Following the trust being placed into special measures in October 2014, a comprehensive quality improvement plan was developed, which included a number of projects and actions. We saw that the action plans were reviewed regularly, with monitoring of compliance against targets and details of completed actions.

“We were particularly impressed with the critical care and end of life care departments which we rated as Good overall."

Sir Mike added: “The trust’s staff and leadership should be proud of their achievement so far and they know what to do now to ensure those changes takes place. We will continue to monitor the trust and this will include further inspections.”

The trust received support under special measures to deliver long term improvements to patient care and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust acted as its "buddy" to help improve care.

In last week's Hereford Times, Hereford MP Jesse Norman raised concerns that the Wye Valley trust was involved in a 'secret' takeover by the Warwick trust.

Meanwhile the Health Service Journal (HSJ), a weekly news print title and website on the NHS, reported this week that three board members from South Warwickshire Foundation Trust are being appointed to run Wye Valley Trust.

HSJ said the appointments have been made at the request of NHS Improvement with South Warwickshire chief executive Glen Burley and chair Russell Hardy appointed chief executive and chair of Wye Valley.

HSJ said South Warwickshire’s chief operating officer, Jane Ives, is set to be appointed managing director of Wye Valley.

A spokesman for Wye Valley said the support from Warwickshire has benefited WVT hugely and to maintain these improvements, NHS Improvement, WVT and SWFT are exploring options to put this support onto a more formal footing.

These discussions are at an advanced stage and it is hoped that an announcement on further details of this new partnership will be made shortly.

As a result of this proposed relationship between the two trusts, WVT’s interim chairman, Mark Waller, will step down on Monday next week, November 7, and Russell Hardy, current chairman of SWFT, will become chairman of both Trusts.

Jeffrey Worrall, delivery and improvement director at NHS Improvement, said: “We are pleased with the positive progress made by Wye Valley NHS Trust to its services for local patients. All staff members have worked extremely hard to achieve this outcome.

“We would like to thank the trust’s leadership team, led by Richard Beeken, for the contribution they have made to the work of the trust over the last two years.

“We must also recognise South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust’s support over the last few months which has helped Wye Valley to drive change and deliver the necessary improvements to its services.

“However, there is clearly more work to be done and we will continue to provide the trust with the necessary support to ensure it delivers the actions identified by the Care Quality Commission.”

The health minister, Philip Dunne, has also praised the progress.

He said: "Every patient at Wye Valley NHS Trust deserves the best possible quality of care and services.

“I am pleased the hard work and effort by staff at the trust has led to significant improvements, and the Trust is now able to exit special measures.

"There is still work to be done in solving some challenges faced by the trust, but today's announcement is further evidence that placing trusts into special measures can lead to positive progress and help with fixing long term problems.”