Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) has been told more work needs to be done to improve the quality of its services by health watchdogs.

The trust 'requires improvement' according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following inspections in May and June this year.

While the overall quality rating remains unchanged from its 2018 rating, inspectors noted 'clear progress' in areas since its previous inspection.

The report, published on Thursday (September 12), identified 12 ways the trust must make improvements in urgent and emergency care, maternity and community inpatient services.

It also identified 11 pieces of outstanding practice going on at North Devon District Hospital and within the trust, including a model to assist in teaching doctors and nurses how to treat a traumatic cardiac arrest which has been published and presented at conferences.

The trust's services were rated 'good' in the caring and effective categories, with the latter an improvement on the previous inspection. The report found an 'exceptionally strong patient-centred culture', with staff putting patients first to keep them safe.

The safe, responsive and well-led categories were all rated as 'requiring improvement'.

NDHT chief executive Suzanne Tracey said: "Whilst we would really like to see our overall rating improve, the report is clear that we are in a very different position today compared to the previous inspection.

"Every member of staff has worked incredibly hard to improve our services, and it's clear from the report that we are providing better care for our patients as a result.

North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

"We have made improvements across all areas, and I am confident that we are heading in the right direction and are doing the necessary work to develop sustainable future plans for our services.

"We are very proud of our services and we look forward to welcoming the CQC back in the future so they can see how our journey is progressing."

Inspectors raised concerns about the completion of care records and the management of medicines in urgent and emergency care. It was also found staff did not always check emergency equipment daily in line with trust policy.

In maternity, records were not always completed, including accurate safer surgery checklists, and risk assessments for home births and resuscitation equipment was not always checked daily.

Dr Nigel Acheson, CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: "I am encouraged by the progress made by the trust but much more work is required to ensure it continues to make changes that will lead to sustainable improvements, so that people receive the care they should be able to expect

"Our inspectors found an exceptionally strong patient-centred culture with staff putting patients first to keep them safe and involving them in decisions which affected their treatment and care.

"Nevertheless, the trust must continue the good work it has started, and we will continue to monitor services closely and return in the future to check on progress."