THE HEALTH trust responsible for the running of Wycombe, Amersham and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals has come out of special measures today, nearly a year after the publication of the damning Keogh Review.

Sir Bruce Keogh inspected Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and found a number of causes for concern, including poor engagement with staff and patients, weak governance and problems with maintaining staffing levels, in a report published last July.

The NHS Trust Development Authority has today confirmed the Trust will continue to receive support, but has come out of special measures.

Since the inspection, the health trust has followed an improvement plan that has included improving engagement with staff and patients and ensuring the board which runs it is more aware of what is happening on the wards. It has also recruited more than 200 qualified nurses and extra consultant cover.

The NHS TDA helped bring about improvements by ‘partnering’ the Trust with the high performing Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. It also appointed an experienced improvement director and made changes in the leadership of the organisation. After re-inspection under the Care Quality Commission’s new criteria, the TDA has recommended that the Trust comes out of special measures with the condition that it continues to receive ongoing support.

Professor Stephen Dunn, director of delivery of development at the NHS Trust Development Authority, said: “This is excellent news for the patients and staff at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and is recognition of the hard work and scale of improvement that has been achieved. It shows that the support that this trust has had can make a real difference to improving the quality of services.

“However, there is still work to be done before the Trust no longer needs support. It is absolutely crucial that they are able to maintain the momentum and focus that got them this far and continue to deliver improvements for patients.”

The NHS TDA says it will ensure that for the foreseeable future the Trust has the support of an improvement director and that they continue with the 'buddying' arrangement in place with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust must also provide regular updates on the progress of future improvements and will continue to be monitored by the NHS TDA’s board of directors.

Sir Bruce Keogh was last year asked personally by the Prime Minister to lead the review into 14 Hospital Trusts whose mortality ratios had shown higher-than-expected rates for the past two years. Of those trusts, 11 were placed into special measures.

It followed the publication of the Francis Report into catastrophic failures at Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals.