The Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has become one of only five in the country to be rated ‘good’ by inspectors.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which monitors health providers to ensure they meet the required standards, inspected Crawley Hospital and East Surrey Hospital in May.
This was followed by an unannounced inspection in June.
Only outpatient services were found wanting, with concerns raised about appointments being cancelled at short notice, lengthy waiting times and incomplete medical records.
A spokesman for the trust said work was already under way to address the concerns, including providing customer care training for reception staff.
Among the areas of the service which the CQC reported to be ‘outstanding’ was the pre-assessment clinic at Crawley Hospital, which had been extended into the evening to meet demand.
There was praise for staff who ensured a dementia patient and their spouse – who was also in hospital – were moved into a two-bed side room to ensure they could stay together, thus reducing the patient’s anxiety.
And inspectors were impressed with the care shown by staff who arranged for a terminally ill patient to have a ‘wedding’ party for which catering staff provided a cake.
The report, by Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, added: “Although there wasn’t time for this to be an official marriage ceremony it was an example of staff working together to meet the individual needs of their patients.”
Michael Wilson, chief executive of SASH, said: “I am very proud of our staff – this is their story and I’m glad their talent, hard work and dedication has been recognised.
“This report also makes for reassuring reading for the community we serve and shows our commitment to safety and quality.
“The inspectors said our staff were the most engaged out of all of the trusts they had visited and I know this makes a real difference to patient experience and care.”
CQC inspections cover five questions: are trusts safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well led.
Of the most recent inspections, the majority were rated as ‘requiring improvement’, two trusts were rated ‘inadequate’ and five, including SASH, were ‘good’. No trust subject to recent inspections has received an ‘outstanding’ rating.