Connect Health achieves “outstanding” CQC rating in well led category and “good” overall

Leading MSK and Pain provider commended for high quality, person centred care; open and fair culture; and developing numerous innovations.

25 June 2021

Following an announced CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection in May, leading community services healthcare provider Connect Health has been rated “outstanding” in the well led domain and “good” overall.

The organisation, which prides itself on providing the highest standards of healthcare to its 375,000 NHS patients and 100-plus occupational health physiotherapy services, was seen to have a strong focus on continuous improvement and innovation, with the aim of improving the quality of the services it delivers.

The CQC report judges highlighted:

We rated the service as outstanding for being well-led. The leadership, management and governance of the organisation assured the delivery of high-quality and person-centred care, supported learning and innovation, and promoted an open and fair culture. We were given examples of numerous innovations that had been implemented in the service during the past year. We found leaders to be innovative, collaborative and forward thinking.


The service was praised across all areas:

  • SAFE – The service had good systems to manage risk so that safety incidents were less likely to happen. When they did happen, the service learned from them and improved their processes.
  • EFFECTIVE – It ensured that care and treatment was delivered according to evidence- based guidelines.
  • CARING – Staff involved and treated people with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.
  • RESPONSIVE – Patients were able to access care and treatment from the service within an appropriate timescale for their needs.
  • WELL-LED – Outstanding leadership, management and governance of the organisation assured the delivery of high-quality and person-centred care, supported learning and innovation, and promoted an open and fair culture.


Prof Andrew Walton, Group Executive Director, Connect Health commented:

We feel proud and honoured to have received an outstanding rating for the well-led category and good overall. It is a fantastic achievement and shows that if you invest time and resources in your processes, your people and importantly your patients, you can deliver amazing results. It is a real testament to the hard work of the full Connect Health team, providing confidence and reassurance to all patients of the high standards of quality care provided.


Dr Graeme Wilkes, Chief Medical Officer, Connect Health added:

CQC has recognised our excellent track record on safety, noting that there are comprehensive risk assessments in relation to safety issues. In particular, it highlighted our systems to keep clinicians up to date with current evidence-based practice.


Paul Allan, Director of NHS Services, Connect Health and CQC Registered Manager continued:

I’m really pleased that CQC has highlighted, as best practice, the Connect Health “Hub” which is our e-learning platform. It allows easy allocation and tracking of e-learning training throughout the business. In addition, The Academy was praised – our post graduate education and CPD based educational facility covering all the specialities we deliver in the community. Each session is delivered by a member of the Academy Faculty, which is made up of 70 colleagues from a multi-professional background. It is also fantastic to be recognised as displaying very high levels of staff satisfaction, as demonstrated by our December 2020 staff survey whereby 90% of people said Connect Heath was a Great Place to Work.


There were many examples of outstanding practice in the report, including:

  • Clinical governance – The report recognised that Connect Health responded to all incidents and learned lessons that they shared across the organisation, for example with the implementation of a new clinical governance structure.
  • Very high levels of staff satisfaction and confidence in their seniors was demonstrated, and leaders were committed to improving patient care, by the establishment of a quality improvement group, with a strong focus on staff training and development overall.
  • The service was shown to have a comprehensive programme of quality improvement activity and routinely reviewed the effectiveness and appropriateness of the care provided. For example, having a variety of dashboards to support live, data-driven decision making and trend monitoring.
  • Clinicians took part in local and national improvement initiatives. Such as the service participating in national benchmarking and the latest result for EQ5D (which measures 16 national benchmarks for quality of life for patients with musculoskeletal problems) was 0.2 which was better than the national figure of 0.16.
  • Performance of the service was visible and digitally managed. This included a clinical dashboard where staff could see their own performance data and live platforms showing appointments and outcomes, NHS England (NHSE) dashboards were utilised to identify future risk and performance. The service had worked with NHSE to pilot its Statistical Process Chart dashboard and have incorporated this into their own monthly operations dashboard.
  • The service made improvements through the use of clinical audits which had a positive impact on quality of care and outcomes for patients. There was clear evidence of action to resolve concerns and improve quality. For example, following instigation of text reminders, the level of patients who did not attend an appointment in one area dropped from 10% to 3% over the course of six months.
  • Helping patients to live healthier lives – Staff were consistent and proactive in empowering patients and supporting them to manage their own health and maximise their independence. The service identified patients who may be in need of extra support, this included for those with mental health needs. The service had a strong focus on holistic care and signposted patients to social prescribing and self-management plans.
  • Leadership capacity and capability – Leaders had the capacity and skills to deliver high-quality, sustainable care. Leaders had the experience, capacity and skills to deliver the service strategy and address risks to it. They were knowledgeable about issues and priorities relating to the quality and future of services. Leaders at all levels were visible and approachable. They worked closely with staff and others to make sure they prioritised compassionate and inclusive leadership.
  • Vision and strategy – The service had a clear vision and credible strategy to deliver high quality care and promote good outcomes for patients. Staff were aware of and understood the vision, values and strategy and their role in achieving them.
  • Culture – The service had a culture of high-quality sustainable care. Staff explained they felt respected, supported and valued. They were proud to work for the service.
  • Evidence of best practice sharing – One example cited how in July 2020, Connect Health launched a brand new “Connect Health Change” webinar series to make and embed transformation in healthcare. Aimed at system leaders and clinicians across the NHS, the webinars provided practical solutions to challenging issues.
  • Continuous improvement and innovation – The service used data and intelligence to look at demand and capacity. The provider was an early adopter of ‘Plot the dots’ to enable them to statistically analyse trends and themes. There were systems to support improvement and innovation work.


The full inspection report can be found here