The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated East London NHS Foundation Trust outstanding, following an inspection which found the trust’s overwhelmingly positive culture supported patients to achieve good outcomes.

CQC’s comprehensive inspection of the trust – which provides mental health and community care in the City of London, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets as well as in Bedfordshire – took place in September.

It was undertaken as part of CQC’s continual checks on the safety and quality services to ensure people receive standards of care they have a right to expect.

In addition to being rated outstanding overall following the latest inspection, the trust is rated outstanding for being caring and well-led. It is rated good for being safe, effective and responsive to people’s needs.

The trust was also rated outstanding overall following its previous comprehensive inspections in 2018 and 2016.

Jane Ray, CQC head of inspection for mental health and community health services, said:

“Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, East London NHS Foundation Trust maintained high standards of quality and safety for people using its services.

“A key factor behind this was the trust’s commitment to continually assessing its work and looking for areas where improvements could be made. This led to it better using data to forecast demand and capacity to improve patient flow, which was helping its services be more accessible and responsive to people’s needs.

“We were also impressed by the exceptionally positive culture we found across the trust. This helped staff feel valued and motivated about their work, supporting them to meet patients’ needs and wishes.

“Behind the trust’s sustained success was leadership that understood the challenges it faced. Leaders went above and beyond to engage with patients, staff and other stakeholders to target resources and articulate a clear and shared vision of what they wanted to achieve for patients.

“There are a few areas the trust should improve – including regarding how user-friendly some of its IT systems were, how it responded following serious incidents to ensure learning was captured and used, and its compliance with guidance on mixed-sex patient accommodation. However, the trust’s leaders were aware of these issues at the time of inspection were working to address them.

“Achieving and maintaining an outstanding rating is the result of considerable hard work, so I congratulate all the trust’s staff for their success.”

CQC’s latest inspection of East London NHS Foundation Trust found people benefited from exceptionally caring and compassionate interactions from staff who were motivated by patient need.

The trust maintained these high standards for people despite the additional pressure it faced as a result of COVID-19, which included it playing a significant and successful role in north-east London’s coronavirus vaccination programme.

Inspectors found people could mostly access the trust’s services in a timely way, and it was working to address delays where needed. There were many factors behind this success, but the trust’s partnership working with other healthcare providers and the good oversight its leaders had of its performance and the needs of local people were central to maintaining this access.

Inspectors also found the trust was committed to inclusion and equality for both its patients and staff. Leaders fostered an environment where staff felt supported and valued, and where concerns could be freely raised to improve patient care.

However, CQC also found some areas where improvements should be made, including complying with mixed-sex accommodation guidance at Fountains Court, a mental health ward for older people in Bedford.

It should also undertake improvements to create therapeutic environments which support people’s wellbeing and recovery at the John Howard Centre, a secure psychiatric service in Hackney.

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