A HOSPITAL trust is to remain in special measures despite making “significant” improvements.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has been told by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) it requires improvement overall.

This is a step up on the inadequate rating the trust received last year.

Inspectors looked at services provided by the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath in April to review the progress made by the trust since its last inspection.

The Royal Sussex was given an inadequate rating for its safety and its critical care but its overall care was good.

Inspectors found not all staff complied with the “bare below the elbows” policy when delivering direct patient care and some other infection risks were not recognised.

However staff had made improvements to dignity and privacy within the outpatients department, although the environment within the eye clinic still presented difficulties in delivering care in a confidential and dignified manner.

Previously staffing levels and the skill mix in emergency departments, medical wards, critical care and midwifery were found to be too low to ensure patients received the care they needed.

Although there were more doctors in the emergency department staffing levels and recruitment still remained a challenge.

The trust has tried to address an organisational culture of bullying and harassment via leadership training and a staff initiative with a campaign backed by staff communications, and new guidance and tools.

However black and ethnic minority staff still had concerns over access to promotion and training.

Within the emergency department there was a new self-rostering approach to medical cover that had a significant impact on the department.

The CQC told the trust it must ensure patients’ dignity and privacy is respected in the emergency department by ensuring there is enough space in holding bays, with proper screening and by avoiding the use of mixed sex accommodation.

At the Princess Royal consultant cover had increased although there were still concerns regarding the provision of paediatric nursing and paediatric anaesthetist cover to the emergency department.

Chief executive Marianne Griffiths, took over responsibility for the trust in April with senior members of her management team at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.

She said:“It is no surprise to me that the inspectors rated the quality of care across all our services as ‘good’.

“Many of the other issues identified are due to systems that don’t work properly, or buildings that are no longer fit for purpose.

“We’re transforming our hospitals through a massive building programme which will bring some of the oldest buildings in the NHS into the 21st century.

“At the same time, we’re working to a programme that will deal with the issues identified by the CQC, ensuring we provide excellent care, create a positive culture across the trust and continuously improve.”