Children's health staff celebrate after good rating

Dr Raj Verma has over 31 years’ experience working with paediatrics
Dr Raj Verma has over 31 years’ experience working with paediatrics

Staff who work with children, young people and families across Cumbria are celebrating after their rating leaped from "requires improvement" to "good".

But the man who has led them to success says the journey of improvement will continue as he strives for an "outstanding" rating.

Dr Raj Verma, associate medical director for the Children’s and Families care group at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), is determined to reach the top rating - and believes staff can achieve it.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated children’s community services at the trust as inadequate after an inspection in November 2015.

But after the latest inspection this January, the services were rated good in all five areas of assessment: safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

Dr Verma said: "For me it's quite a humbling experience as a clinical manager for this group because the staff, they have taken on board the motivator of doing the continuous improvement work.

"This rating is very humbling and I'm very pleased about it but I can assure you, there will be no complacency within my team.

"I would like to go from 'good' to 'outstanding' in future. I'm pushing on the agenda because there's a lot of improvement we can make."

Dr Verma added the new good rating would attract staff in future - though all pediatric positions are currently filled - and instill parents with confidence that their children would receive great care.

CPFT provides healthcare services to children and young people up to the age of 19 across Cumbria, including at the Carleton and Solway clinics in Carlisle and Penrith Health Centre.

Services include health visiting, school nursing, community children’s nursing, looked-after children, the family nurse partnership, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and sexual health services.

After the previous 2015 inspection, the service was rated inadequate overall and in the "safe" and "well-led" domains.

Inspectors rated "effective and responsive " as required improvement while caring was good.

Dr Verma joined the trust in July last year with the aim of transforming children's services.

To do this, he engaged with everyone involved in pediatrics and particularly held regular meetings with Joanne Hiley, associate director of nursing, and Lyn Moor, associate director of operations.

Dr Verma said: "The problem with leadership that sometimes happens is if you're not a listener.

"If you want to do problem solving, it comes with front line clinicians - they know how to solve the problems.

"But if, as a leader, you're telling them to solve it this way and that way, that's not going to work."

Despite financial pressures and changes leading to low morale, Dr Verma said staff had to learn to do better with the resources available.

Dr Verma, who is also a pediatric consultant, said: "It's empowering for everyone to say 'yes we can do it' and showing them that I'm with you, I'm also doing this."

The CQC report published today praised the trust for how its leadership, governance and culture promoted the delivery of high quality person-centred care; improved waiting times; how staff protected children and young people from avoidable harm and abuse and managers and staff managed caseloads well.

However, the report also said the trust should ensure improvements are made in the following areas:

* All nurses working in sexual health clinics, who provide clinical care and treatment to children and people, are trained to the appropriate level for safeguarding children;

* Premises are secure and clinical areas are appropriately secured to ensure members of the public do not have unrestricted access;

* Staff have access to the equipment they need and there is an effective system for ensuring equipment is tested appropriately;

* Records continue to be completed within the required timescales as stated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and ensure an appropriate monitoring system is in place;

*Provide a qualified specialist community public health nurse for each secondary school in the county, in line with guidelines;

* School nursing service participates in health-promotion activities to support children in local schools.

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