'Caring, effective and well led' - hospital out of special measures

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (front centre), with staff in the Critical Care Unit, which was rated "outstanding" by the Care Quality Commission. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk hospital has battled its way out of special measures through the teeth of the pandemic.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn was rated "inadequate" by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2019 after inspectors raised concerns over staffing levels, patient safety and leadership.

Today staff will be told their hard work has lifted the 500-bed QEH out of the doldrums and earned it a "good" rating as a caring, effective and well-led hospital.


The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

The CQC, which carried out unannounced inspections in December and January, gave the hospital an overall rating of "requires improvement", with safety and the effectiveness of services still needing some improvement. 

Fiona Allinson, its deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “I am pleased to see significant improvements have been made right across the trust in the care given to patients resulting in a number of its services being rated ‘good’.

"More importantly there’s been a significant increase in the quality of care being given to people in Norfolk using these services.

"The Covid pandemic brought a number of additional challenges to the NHS, so staff are to be commended for the progress made at this particularly difficult time."

QEH ratings

How the QEH's ratings compare from 2019 and 2022, when it was taken out of special measures - Credit: CQC

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In its latest report, the CQC said: "Staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity and took account of their individual needs.” It described the critical care team at the QEH as "outstanding".

It added staff felt "respected, supported and valued” and there was a strong focus on quality improvement to improve patients’ care and outcomes” with “the Trust committed to improving services by learning when things went well, and when they went wrong.”

New leadership set to work transforming the hospital after the arrival of new chair Prof Steve Barnett and chief executive Caroline Shaw in early 2019.

Prof Barnett said: “This is an excellent report which is a reflection of everyone’s commitment to improving care for our patients and families and the experience for our staff over the last three years."

Ms Shaw added: "“The publication of today’s report is a really important moment and milestone for all of us. It is the result of a huge amount of hard work, focus and an absolute determination to continuously improve care and services for our patients and their families."

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: “It is also a huge testament to the dedication of all the staff who have worked tirelessly in the extreme circumstances resulting from the pandemic over the past two years."