United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust remains in special measures

Boston's Pilgrim Hospital, Lincoln County Hospital and Grantham Hospital
Image caption United Lincolnshire trust runs hospitals in Grantham, Boston and Lincoln

A hospital trust which was placed into special measures last year is to remain so for another six months.

Problems at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) were highlighted following a review by NHS England medical director Bruce Keogh in 2013.

A recent inspection by the CQC found the hospitals were making improvements but more could still be done.

Trust bosses said they "got very close to coming out of special measures".

Concerns were first raised in July 2013 about mortality rates and standards of care at the Trust's Pilgrim Hospital, Grantham and District Hospital, Lincoln County Hospital and Louth Hospital.

Following visits by CQC inspectors in April and May this year, all were highlighted as needing to make further progress.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, said inspectors found enhanced critical and intensive care and better feedback from patients, while outpatient services still needed improving.

He said there were still concerns about some processes not being embedded across the whole trust and staff recruitment was a challenge, with a number of vacancies at Pilgrim Hospital.

Sir Richards, said: "While we saw definite evidence of improvement, the trust still has some way to go before it reaches the required standard.

"In particular, medical staff need to be better engaged in improving service quality and better integration of clinical services between the hospital sites is needed.

"I hope that, in six month's time, the trust will be able to demonstrate enough improvement to review this again."

ULHT chief executive Jane Lewington said: "I feel we got to the play-offs - we got very close."

However, she added: "I did just wonder at the back of my mind whether they would keep us in special measures for a little bit longer to give them confidence that the improvements we've made are going to be sustained."

CQC inspectors will return to the hospitals at a later date.

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