Significant improvements have seen an NHS Trust move out of ‘special measures’ following its latest inspection.

A team from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) noted a “positive culture” at the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Watford General – and an environment where staff are “proud to work”.

It also pointed to evidence of “strong, supportive and visible leadership” as it made the recommendation to upgrade its status when examining whether it was safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

The trust as a whole was rated as ‘requires improvement’, though it is considered ‘good’ when it comes to caring.

Watford General also ‘requires improvement’ despite a number of its departments being classed as ‘good’ by the CQC. A similar pattern was seen at St Albans City Hospital and Hemel Hempstead Hospital.

Watford’s urgent and emergency department was deemed ‘inadequate’ due to concerns over safety, responsiveness and leadership.

But trust chair, Professor Steve Barnett, chose to focus on the positives, noting how it was appropriate recognition of the efforts of all who work there.

He said: “These results tell a story of commitment, care and high quality services. Even the quickest glance makes it clear that we have come a long, long way since being placed in special measures in 2015.

“Events in recent weeks only emphasise the kind of workforce we’re so lucky to have.

“We won a national award from the Health Service Journal, our medical director was invited to present nationally about our low mortality rates and staff struggled through snow and ice to keep our services going and our patients safe.

“I am immensely proud of our staff. They never stop wanting to improve, to learn and to deliver the very best care for every patient, every day.

“Our leadership teams, from the board to the wards, have been growing in strength over the last few years and this has played a big part in our move out of special measures.

“I would also like to pay tribute to our wonderful volunteers. I was thrilled to see that the volunteer-run Carer Support Team was praised by the CCQ for the support they give to the parents and friends of unwell babies and children.”