THE Walton Centre – Liverpool’s specialist brain and spine hospital – is the first specialist NHS trust in the country to be rated as outstanding without any areas deemed as needing improvement. The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust received the top rating following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year. In examining trusts, inspectors ask five key questions: is the trust safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led? The Walton Centre is one of only nine trusts in England to receive an overall ‘outstanding’ mark and is only the second specialist NHS trust nationally to be given this rating. Both trusts are in Liverpool. Liverpool’s Heart and Chest Hospital also received an outstanding rating from the independent health and social care regulator. The result follows on from a number of significant achievements. The hospital, dedicated to providing neurosurgery and care for patients with neurology, pain and spinal conditions, is already in the Nursing Times’ top 10 for nursing care. It also ranks as one of the top 10 places to work in the NHS by the Health Service Journal and was named as an exemplar in Health and Wellbeing for the rest of the NHS and an NHS vanguard site after it put forward a bid to pioneer a new way of working that will benefit patients. The Walton Centre, which provides a neuroscience service for the whole of the region, also has Investors in People Gold status – a quality kite mark which reflects the Trust’s commitment to its workforce and their development. Inspectors who visited the specialist brain and spine hospital earlier this year saw several areas of outstanding practice, including its work in research, radiology, critical care and rehabilitation. Chief Executive of The Walton Centre Chris Harrop said: “This is a fantastic result which tells patients that when they come to The Walton Centre they are getting the very best possible care. “It’s simply astounding what we have achieved together recently. We are in the Nursing Times’ top 10 for nursing care. We also hold Investors in People Gold because of our commitment to our staff. We are leading the way in several areas of care including trauma, rehabilitation and the management of complex pain. “I am overwhelmed by the commitment our staff give so willingly to help patients and pioneer new ways of working so that patients can access the best care, the best treatments and have the best possible outcome. They deserve this recognition. “We work as a team at The Walton Centre and this outstanding rating is the result of a joint effort. Everybody has played their part; staff, volunteers, governors, partners, commissioners, our wider Walton Centre family in our satellite clinics and the patients themselves who guide us in what we do. “This is great news for The Walton Centre and also for Cheshire and Merseyside as a whole and our patients in north Wales. This result not only reflects the care we deliver but it is broader than that, it reflects the way we provide care, commission services and work with other trusts. An outstanding rating is acknowledgment that we are providing the best care to patients in Liverpool and beyond but also that we are part of a successful wider health system that is working together for patients.” Consultant Neurosurgeon at the hospital Paul May, who last month became the President of the Society of British Neuro Surgeons, added: “The Walton Centre is an outstanding trust. This Trust has a history of delivering the best care and this is further evidence that we are getting it right for patients. We are not only known locally for being a centre of excellence but have a national and international reputation for being the best at what we do. And this, as always, is driven by our desire to deliver the best outcomes for patients.” The CQC published its rating on Friday 21 October 2016, following announced and unannounced inspection visits to the Trust in April 2016. A team of more than 30 CQC inspectors, made up of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, visited to inspect the services provided by the Trust. The CQC also sought the views of patients who had used the services, external partners and examined data to develop a detailed understanding of the culture, leadership and the quality of care delivered.