Brighton hospital bosses gave an upbeat assessment as they flagged up an impending official inspection.
Marianne Griffiths, who runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, said that she believed that inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) would see a ‘huge improvement’.
She also hoped that the NHS trust – Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) – would come out of special measures, having previously being given a CQC rating of inadequate.
Mrs Griffiths said that the trust had come out of financial special measures three weeks earlier as it wrestled with a deficit still in excess of £50 million.
The trust’s changing status reflected a raft of improvements, she said, with the groundwork laid for more.
Morale was up, the benefits of huge investment in buildings was already being felt – and work on a new helipad was almost complete.
Mrs Griffiths, the BSUH chief executive, spoke about the outlook at the trust’s AGM (annual general meeting) as she also looked back at her first full year in post.
She continues to run the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust – which manages ‘outstanding’ hospitals in Chichester and Worthing – along with a number of her fellow directors.
She praised staff at BSUH for embracing change, saying: “It would have been easy for staff to be cynical (and) resentful. It could have been difficult but everyone made us so welcome.
“People have engaged in what we are doing and contributed to the success we have today.”
Next month the CQC is due to carry out a formal inspection which Mrs Griffiths hoped would mean that the trust would come out of ‘quality special measures’.
She said: “We hope they will see a huge improvement. Staff want a thriving hospital and we’re positive about the shift in culture.”
One critical aspect of this, she said, was a programme of long-term culture change known as Patient First, included work on continuous improvement.
It had resulted in fewer falls and led to the trust being nominated for a Nursing Times safety award.
2017-18 in facts and figures
Number of staff: 8,900
A&E attendance: 173,109
Babies born: 5,370
Children cared for by the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital: 45,000
In a patient survey 88.5 percent of people said that they would recommend the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department at the Royal Sussex, up from compared with 87.9 per cent last year.
Emergency admissions rose but more people were seen within the four-hour target, up from 82.7 per cent to 84.3 per cent.
And a new way of dealing with paperwork, known as clerking, had reduced the average time for a patient to be dealt with from eight hours to two.
Medical and surgical teams were working more closely together alongside faster and more efficient clerking process.
Consultants were now always on duty in A&E at the Royal Sussex with the department having come up with a flexible self-rostering system.
The system, devised by emergency medicine consultant Rob Galloway, was being widely adopted across the NHS.
As a result Dr Galloway and his colleagues won the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s Quality Improvement Project of the Year.
Work is under way to add an extra 120 beds in A&E across the trust, 35 of them this year.
A total of £30 million is being invested in A&E.
The trust’s mortality rate was now lower than the national average, with 99.36 per cent of patients suffering no new harm in hospital compared with 98.7 per cent nationally.
It was a challenging time, chief executive Marianne Griffiths said, with the extensive building work under way at the Royal Sussex site. But the new additions were taking shape.
From next January the new helipad on top of the Thomas Kemp Tower was expected to be in operation.
It sits three storeys above the rest of the tower and would be served by a lift added to the outside of the building, soon to be clad so that it blended in.
The new main building should be completed by December 2020.
Once the new building was ready to take patients in early 2021, the outdated Barry Building, which is almost 200 years old, would be demolished.
Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.