Monthly column for providers and professionals working in healthcare from Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals

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This month has seen the publication of a number of reports and surveys which will be of interest to providers across all sectors. I hope you will take the time to review the publications of particular relevance to you and share with your colleagues.

Our survey programme is an important way of finding out what people think of the NHS healthcare services that they use. The latest annual survey of people who stayed as an inpatient in hospital showed that most people continue to report positively about their interaction with staff, and there are good results in terms of people feeling they are treated with dignity and respect. This reflects the continued effort of healthcare professionals to provide high quality care in the face of increasing levels of demand.

However, we have seen that overall improvements in people’s inpatient experience has stalled, and in some cases we have seen slight drops. This is disappointing and is a reflection of how mounting pressure on the system is having a direct impact on how people are experiencing inpatient care. It highlights that we have reached a point where relying on staff’s efforts and hard work is no longer enough — we need greater collaboration between local health and care services to ensure people are receiving the best quality of care.

The survey findings have been shared with providers, and I would encourage them to review their individual results and take steps to address any areas where improvements are needed. You can read more, including key findings and individual trust results on our website.

The positive impact of collaboration across health and care services is demonstrated in our new web resource, which features case studies showcasing what providers have done to address the challenge of providing safe, effective staffing in creative and flexible ways.

Safe, effective staffing is about having enough staff with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time. We want to support providers to look at staffing in a flexible way, which is focused on ensuring the overall safety of patient care, rather than rigid staffing rations.

Visit our website to access the resource, and you can read more in my introductory blog, as well as supporting blogs from NHS England and Health Education England.

Staying with the theme of sharing good practice and encouraging learning from others, we have also published a new report in our Driving improvement series. The latest addition explores how eight independent acute hospitals have been able to make significant improvements in the quality of care and improve their CQC rating on re-inspection.

Their stories share some common themes, showing how important it is to have open, honest and visible leadership that engages and empowers staff across all departments to contribute to improving patient care.

As well as the latest report focusing on independent hospitals, you can revisit the other reports in the series looking at NHS trusts, mental health trusts and individuals who have made a difference.

Finally, we have published the findings of our review of how the Mental Health Act (MHA) Code of Practice is being used across mental health services since it was updated in 2015.

The Code of Practice helps professionals and those working in services to interpret and apply the legislation to decision making, and to provide safeguards for involving and protecting people in mental health services.

Our review found that the Code of Practice isn’t being used as it was intended due to a lack of awareness and understanding of the statutory guidance amongst providers and staff. As a result, the guiding principles were not always being used by services to empower and involve people in decisions being made about their care.

The report highlights key areas of improvement and learning from the current Code of Practice, and recommends that the Department of Health and Social Care develop standardised resources, support and training for patients, carers and staff to help them understand the Code and how and when it should be applied.

You may be aware that CQC is running a year-round campaign to encourage more people to share their experiences of care both with ourselves and providers. We will be focusing on different population groups throughout the campaign including people from black and minority ethnic communities. You can find out more on our website, where you can also access materials if you would like to support the campaign.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

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