THE quality of services at the health trust that runs Huddersfield Royal Infirmary has slipped, according to ratings out today.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust was labelled ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – down from ‘excellent’ last year.
But trust bosses insist patient care standards have not fallen.
Director of nursing Helen Thomson said: “Always you are a bit disappointed when you go down, because staff and patients get a boost out of it when the ratings are excellent.
“The positive thing, though, is that the quality of patient care has not gone down at all.
“In fact, in terms of the measures we have got, it has gone up.
“Although the overall rating makes people stop in their tracks, when we have done the analysis, patient care is still very good.”
The trust, which also runs Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, got 35 points out of 39 – two short of an excellent rating – when it was assessed between April 2008 and March 2009.
Assessors checked issues like patient safety, cleanliness and waiting times, all of which were met by the trust.
The main area where it dropped points was in data management.
The CQC report said: “The trust failed to provide timely or good quality information to allow us to assess whether the recording of mandatory maternity data fields was satisfactory.”
In effect, the trust failed to provide necessary information to a centralised NHS IT system.
Mrs Thomson said this was because of a problem with software systems at the trust which had since been rectified.
The CQC also marked the trust down a point because it missed a target on the amount of time hospitalised stroke patients are meant to spend in a dedicated unit.
Mrs Thomson said initiatives had been taken to improve stroke services.
In financial management, the other main area of the assessment, the trust again achieved an ‘excellent’ rating.
Mrs Thomson added: “These are challenging times for the NHS and we always knew maintaining the double excellent rating of the two previous years would be an incredibly difficult task for all our staff.
“But overall this is a positive report for the trust and staff and patients should take heart from that.”
NHS Kirklees, the trust responsible for primary care facilities like GPs and dentists, was rated ‘good’ for both quality of services and financial management – an improvement from last year, when it was rated ‘fair’ for both.