A leading heart hospital has become the first NHS hospital trust to earn “outstanding” ratings across the board by inspectors.
Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge is where the first successful UK heart transplant was carried out in 1979.
The hospital earned the top rating across all five areas, including patient safety, care and leadership.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors said: “A caring culture ran through the trust.”
The hospital, which was granted its royal title in 2018, has an international reputation as a renowned centre for heart and lung transplants, treating more than 100,000 patients a year.
The UK’s first successful heart transplant was carried out by Sir Terence English – and the world’s first successful heart, lung and liver transplant took place there in 1986.
It moved from the village of Papworth Everard to a new £165m home on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus earlier this year.
When the trust was previously inspected, in 2014, it was rated “good” overall.
Inspectors visited the hospital between 18 June and 26 July this year and found patients were receiving “outstanding service” across all tested areas – safety, effectiveness, care, responsiveness and leadership.
The CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Prof Ted Baker, said he was “very impressed by the high-quality care and treatment offered”.
“Patients received exemplary care from committed and qualified staff,” the report concluded.
“Premises were safe and clean, ensuring vulnerable people – including those living with cystic fibrosis – were protected from infection.
“Processes were in place, based on best practice guidelines, ensuring staff acted quickly when people showed signs of deterioration.”
The CQC report also praised commitment to research and innovation, as well as collaboration with “engineers, academics and clinicians” across the biomedical campus.
Only staffing levels, bed capacity in the critical care unit and patient feedback in diagnostic imaging were identified as areas for improvement.
“An outstanding rating is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment,” Prof Baker said.
“Underpinning this was a leadership team that prioritised putting people at the heart of their care by supporting frontline staff with the right priorities.”