Annual report published by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BRHUT) has released its annual report for 2020/21. The report covers the performance of the trust, as well as financial results and ongoing work to improve care and reduce health inequalities in North East London.

In his introduction, the Chief Executive of the Trust, Tony Chambers, praised the work of staff over the past year: “There are many examples of how we have responded innovatively to an ever-changing situation – including developing unique multi-disciplinary training for redeployed staff; increasing our critical care capacity five-fold and implementing an oxygen receiving unit. 

“Throughout, teamwork has underpinned these successes, with traditional boundaries and ways of working transcended as we focused on keeping our patients and staff safe. Whilst we can never overestimate the scale of the tragedy and the toll is has taken on our staff, there are a multitude of positive learnings to carry forward. Our hospitals have been transformed and in the words of our staff, there is ‘no going back’.” 

The report gives a background to the trust’s local population and the demand for their services, as BRHUT provides care for a population of about 750,000 people across North East London (NEL), and that number is predicted to increase by 15 per cent over the next 10 years.

The report acknowledges the recent CQC findings at the trust, including that it was placed in special financial measures in 2018, and currently, there is a financial recovery plan in place.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges, especially when it came to patients waiting for urgent cancer care. The report says that the trust did not meet the 31-day standard for the full year – with 93.9 per cent of patients receiving a diagnosis and first definitive treatment within 31 days, against a target of 96 per cent. The Trust also failed to meet urgent referral targets within the two-week standard – with 87.0 per cent against a target of 93 per cent here. Additional capacity is being looked at as a solution to the backlog by the trust.  

Greater collaboration between the trust and local health services is also a target for the upcoming year, and the trust is said to be making “good progress” in achieving that goal. Maternity care is one of the highlights in the report – after it received a score of “good” from the CQC and demand for maternity services remains at a high level.

The report outlines the trust’s work with Barts Health NHS Trust, and work to develop a joint vision to enable cohesive working ties. The two trusts are now looking to appoint a “chair in common”, who will lead collaboration on the two boards of the trusts. It is hoped partnership with Barts Health will also “reduce backlogs for planned operations, and tackle the inequalities widened by COVID”, according to the report.  

The trust’s next CQC inspection is due to be conducted in the maternity departments, but no specific timeframe or details have been released.  

King George and Queen’s Hospitals Charity is the registered charity of the hospitals based in Ilford and Romford respectively. The charity went through a turbulent period during the pandemic but, ultimately, through NHS Charities Together and other support from donations, the charity registered an income of £1.27 million – close to the original target set before the pandemic.  

Meanwhile, BHRUT failed to meet targets in emergency care. From a target set of 95 per cent of all patients attending emergency departments to be treated, admitted or discharged within a maximum of four hours, only 72.8 per cent of patients were successfully treated within four hours. 

In response, boards have been set up by the trust to review performance in cancer care and trends in performance, with emergency care statistics shared daily and cancer care on a weekly basis. Further commitment to virtual solutions for patients has also been outlined by the trust to reduce waiting times, and 89 per cent of patients responded positively to the virtual clinics set up.  

Sustainability for the trust signifies a mark of success, as the report says that the trust cut carbon emissions by 42 per cent in the past year, which represents a £5 million saving in energy cost for BHRUT.

The full report, including an independent auditor report on the trust’s financial performance, is available here.