Last update 21st. July 2004


Rapid improvements in patient services not reflected by star ratings

The star ratings published today do not reflect the enormous progress Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has made in the last nine months of 2003/04, with the Trust now providing more, better and faster services to local people, according to the Trust's chief executive Ken Cunningham.

Sussex and Surrey Healthcare NHS Trust was awarded no stars in the government's official star ratings system that assesses the Trust's performance against key targets such as waiting times and financial management. Performance was assessed over the 12-month period from 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004.

"The Trust'sperformance has been transformed over the last year, with significant improvements in a number of key areas such as waiting times in accident and emergency," says Trust chief executive Ken Cunningham.

The Trust has maintained the high levels of service it achieved in the last nine months of 2003/04 and our plan is to continue these improvements," says Ken Cunningham. "But meeting stringent financial targets continues to be a challenge. Treating more patients, investment in new services and updating our hospitals meant that we failed to balance the books in 2003/04."

A total of £25 million has been invested in new and improved patient services:

The Trust met new tougher government targets in four areas:

It failed to meet the financial target because of the additional money that needed to be spent in advance of implementing its ambitious modernisation plans, and narrowly missed three other targets:

Of the patients admitted to hospital from the accident and emergency department, 98.1 per cent waited less than 12 hours to be admitted after a decision to admit the patient to hospital was taken. The target was 99.95 per cent.

"Although these are areas in which, under the star ratings system, the Trust has been judged to have failed it isin these areas that I am most proud of our progress," explains Ken Cunningham. "In March 2003 only 67 per cent of patients were seen within four hours in accident and emergency. By March 2004 it was 94 per cent. Staff in all aspects of emergency care have worked tirelessly to completely change the way that we deal with the different types of A&E and emergency patients. My feedback from patients reflects a high level of appreciation of the services we now are able to offer."

"In the first quarter of 2004/05 the Trust has met or exceeded seven out of the nine key targets. So despite the picture painted by the star ratings, the Trust is getting better and we are committed to raising the rating to reflect the real progress we are making," adds Ken Cunningham.