Work still to be done despite improvements for West Herts Hospitals Trust

West Herts Hospitals Trust, which oversees hospitals including St Albans City, has been ranked 'requ

West Herts Hospitals Trust, which oversees hospitals including St Albans City, has been ranked 'requires improvement' by the Care Quality Commission. Photo: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

West Herts Hospitals Trust, which oversees Watford General and St Albans City hospitals, still requires improvement since being taken out of special measures in 2018, according to results from the health watchdog.

A partial inspection by the Care Quality Commission in February to March looked at urgent emergency service, medical care and surgery as well as a review of the leadership team and ‘use of resources’ – a measure to assess financial management.

The overall rating remains as ‘requires improvement’ but there have been a number of improvements, with some ratings jumping two places from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’.

The trust is rated ‘good’ for being effective, caring and well-led and rated ‘requires improvement’ for being safe and responsive.

All services at Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital are now rated overall as ‘good’ – eight and three services respectively.

The trust has no ‘inadequate’ ratings and did not receive any enforcement notices – which mean that services must be halted or changed immediately.

Urgent and emergency care services on all three hospital sites are now rated ‘good’ which it says is “testament to the commitment of the teams to improve services”.

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Inspectors noted: “Staff were experienced, qualified and had the right skills and knowledge to meet the needs of patients.” Inspectors also saw “examples of excellent seamless care for patients”, through multidisciplinary working.

The overall rating for caring remains good, with inspectors mentioning that they “saw staff engaged with patients and their loved one, listening and being caring.”

The report also says: “We observed consultants being respectful and compassionate with distressed family members and we observed warm and caring engagement between staff and patients.”

Chief executive Christine Allen said: “I am really pleased that inspectors saw how much we are achieving in terms of staff engagement, learning from incidents and always pushing ourselves to find new and better ways of delivering the best care for every patient, every day.”

Inspectors noted areas for further focus – some patient records were missing details such as patient’s weight, cleaning products were not always stored correctly and there were longer than national average waiting times for some surgery.

Ms Allen added: “We recognise that there are further improvements to be made. Waiting times for urgent care had been steadily improving despite increased demand. We had also made progress in reducing waiting times for some surgical procedures, but this was before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on our services.

“The improvements shown in this report demonstrate clearly the hard work and commitment shown by all of our staff.”

WHHT’s chairman Phil Townsend said: “I’m enormously proud of our staff and their dedication to improving services. These inspection results show how determined staff are to provide the very best care for patients and their commitment shines through every day – never more so than during our response to the pandemic. I am proud to be their chairman.”

To read the full report, go to