FAIRFIELD General Hospital has been awarded an 'Outstanding' rating from the Care Quality Commission following its latest inspection.

Pennine Acute Trust, which oversees the running of Fairfield General, North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary, has also received an overall 'Good' rating.

Northern Care Alliance, which runs the trust, praised the "hard work and commitment" of staff, and said the trust had "turned a major corner."

Pennine Acute's rating and standards of care have improved, year on year, from 'Inadequate' in 2016 to overall 'Good' in just three years.

Fairfield General, in Bury, has now moved to the highest possible rating — up from 'Good' in March 2018. The trust’s end of life care was also rated 'Outstanding'.

Raj Jain, chief executive at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, said: “This is fantastic news. We are really pleased for our staff to receive this positive CQC report. It rightly recognises the hard work and continued commitment staff have demonstrated over the past three years in providing high standards of care and also in driving the improvements that were needed.

“We have put in place group-wide systems and processes, invested in medical equipment and our workforce, recruited more staff, and strengthened leadership teams at each hospital to empower and support staff.

Bury Times: Raj Jain, the chief executive of the Northern Care Alliance NHS GroupRaj Jain, the chief executive of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group

“We know we have caring and compassionate staff, but by working together, by learning from each other and by putting the patient experience at the heart of everything we do, we have been able to really improve on the quality of care and reliability that was required. There is a completely different culture now – we are more open, honest and transparent, and benefit from a real positive learning culture."

However, the Royal Oldham and North Manchester General have failed to improve on their 'Requires Improvement' ratings.

The trust put this down to "increased demand on services" and the "challenges facing the hospitals in relation to A&E performance and elective waiting times and other key national standards."

The CQC highlighted that further improvements are needed to guard against last minute cancellations to operations and to improve surgery waiting times. They also found that staff understanding and recording of people’s mental capacity are needed to increase as well as documentation relating to deprivation of liberty safeguards.

Inspectors from the independent health and social care watchdog, the CQC, visited the four hospitals as part of a 23-day inspection of the trust's core services.

They assessed quality, care and safety across urgent and emergency services, surgery, medical services, critical care, end of life care and community inpatient services.

Overall, they rated 15 services, three as outstanding, 11 as good and one as requires improvement.

In the inspection report published today, the CQC found improvements had been made in the effectiveness of its services, and in the medical care services rating for North Manchester General and The Royal Oldham Hospitals. This rose to 'Good', up from 'Requires Improvement'.

The trust also secured an improved rating for critical care and surgery services at Royal Oldham, up to 'Good'.

Bury Times: Rating changes at Pennine Acute Hospitals between 2016 and 2019Rating changes at Pennine Acute Hospitals between 2016 and 2019

Mr Jain said: “I am also extremely proud of staff who have made these improvements despite the challenges, increased demand on services and the historic underinvestment in IT systems and estates infrastructure. I must also recognise the contribution our commissioners have made. We have been successful at establishing effective working in each locality and through these partnerships we are continuing to drive forward 21st century care. Working together we will secure the much needed investment that will provide our staff and patients with modern infrastructure.

“We owe this improvement to our staff, patients and the communities we serve. We will not rest on our laurels; we will use this report to build on and improve further. Thank you to our staff; this report is a testament to their care, hard work and a can do team effort.”

Inspectors found leadership teams were experienced, capable and strategically aware, supporting staff and a collaborative approach to ensure patients receive high-quality care.

Jim Potter, chairman of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, said: “The improvements made across our Pennine Acute hospitals have been incredible and very real. It’s been a challenging three years and has meant a lot of hard work and willingness of staff and our leadership teams to make the changes and progress improvements whilst meeting the increased demands facing NHS services.

"On behalf of the board and our governors, thank you to our amazing staff for the care, compassion and skill they give to the thousands of people they treat and look after every day, 24/7. This is positive news for our staff, our partners and our local communities.”