Manchester’s cancer hospital The Christie NHS Foundation Trust has been revealed to be the top specialist trust in England and one of the best three trusts overall. 

In November 2016 the Trust was ranked outstanding by the health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which called it ‘exceptional’ and ‘a leader in its field’.

Now a CQC report following the end of its current inspection programme reveals that not only was The Christie rated the best specialist trust in the country, but it is also one of the top three trusts generally in England, along with non-specialist trusts Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, receiving the best overall ratings across five areas - from safety and effectiveness to how caring, responsive and well-led they are.

The report – The State of Care in Acute Hospitals 2014 to 2016 – contains findings from the end of the CQC’s programme of NHS acute comprehensive inspections. Between September 2013 and June 2016 the CQC completed inspections of all 136 NHS acute non-specialist trusts and all 17 specialist trusts. Since January 2014 it provided ratings for a total of 265 non-specialist hospitals (sites or locations) and 27 specialist hospitals operated by these trusts.

The Christie in Withington was one of the first specialist cancer hospitals in the country to be awarded the highest accolade by the CQC which highlighted its effectiveness, care and leadership.

The report praised the ‘friendly and open culture’ and the ‘commitment to excellence that filters through every area of the trust’.

The Christie’s Chief Executive, Roger Spencer, said: “We were very proud in November when the CQC awarded The Christie an outstanding rating. To hear today that not only have we been rated outstanding, but we have also been placed as the top specialist hospital in the country and one of the top three trusts in England is wonderful news.

“This is testament to the dedicated, expert staff in every Christie department and site who work tirelessly to give the very best care and treatment to our cancer patients. Those patients are at the heart of everything we do.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the outstanding research that happens at The Christie together with our partner organisations. This research provides opportunities for our patients to be involved in trial treatments when standard treatments have been exhausted.”

In November, the CQC highly praised The Christie’s overall service, rating its effectiveness, care, leadership and responsiveness as outstanding. The safety of its services is good.

The report looked at medical care, surgery, critical care, end of life care, outpatients and diagnostic imaging, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It highlighted a number of outstanding practices at the trust, which treats more than 44,000 patients a year. They include:

  • The surgical division’s ‘remarkable’ approach to treatment with the multidisciplinary cancer team offering bespoke multi-specialities to patients which improved survival rates

  • The trust’s ‘outstanding’ programme of alternative and complementary therapies

  • The structure of the trust’s end of life care team which is now being rolled out across cancer centres throughout the country.

Chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said at the time: “We found the care at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust to be of exceptional quality. I have no doubt they take great pride in the service they are providing.

“Staff are highly motivated and speak positively about the care they provide, and what they told us is a reflection of the friendly and open culture at the trust.

“The trust is also helping to shape the future of cancer care. Nationally it is well known for the contribution made by patients and staff to some very important clinic research projects. It is also impressive that the trust has established The Christie School of Oncology to provide specialist education for students and medical professionals. 

“Our inspectors were struck by the commitment to excellence that filters through every area of the trust. This includes investing in the latest technology and using clinical research to develop new treatments to secure the best outcomes for patients, to offering complementary therapies to aid the well-being of them and people close to them.  

“This is a clear example of a trust leading in its field, and I commend all the staff on their outstanding rating.” 

Christie breast cancer patient Emma Barnes, who has been treated at The Christie for 13 years, backed the findings of the CQC, saying: “I can honestly say it’s a truly incredible place. I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m getting the very best care from a hospital that is leading the way in treatment and research. I’m not surprised that it has been given the highest possible rating. I wouldn’t want to be treated anywhere else.”