Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust has blamed glitches in the NHS computer system for its failure to retain its 'excellent' rating in the annual Healthcare Commission evaluation.
The NHS trust which runs SE1's two major hospitals was rated as 'good' for quality of services and 'excellent' for its use of resources. Services can be rated excellent, good, fair or weak.
Last year Guy's and St Thomas' was rated 'excellent' for quality of services. The trust blames IT failures for the disappointing result.
"This was largely the result of an unexpected IT problem with the national Choose and Book system, which forced the Trust to put the safety of patients above the requirements of booking targets," the trust argued in a statement.
"The Choose and Book system allows GPs to book patients directly onto our appointments system. During the summer of 2007 our staff started to experience serious difficulties with this process, for example finding that significant numbers of patients were being given the same hospital identification number. Understandably this raised serious concerns for patient safety. The Trust took the decision to slow down the implementation of Choose and Book while this situation was resolved. As a result of this action the Trust 'failed' to keep up with the required targets for the number of services booked directly by GPs. The fact that these targets were subsequently changed and then applied retrospectively exacerbated this situation further."
Chief Executive Ron Kerr said: "Overall our performance in this year's annual health check has been very encouraging with impressive performances in a number of key areas affecting our patients. I think this is why we are all particularly disappointed to have missed out on the 'excellent' rating for the quality of services we provide. We believe we took the correct decision over Choose and Book and that the 'good' rating does not accurately reflect how well we are performing clinically. I'd like to thank all our staff who have worked so hard over the past year to give our patients such high levels of care."
The trust says that its financial performance "remains one of the best anywhere in the NHS" with a £56 million surplus that will be reinvested in plans to improve services and the hospital environment for patients.
Meanwhile Southwark Primary Care Trust has seen its rating for quality of service drop from 'good' to 'fair'. Neighbouring Lambeth PCT managed to retain its 'good' rating.
• Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust last week announced that the term of office of its chair Patricia Moberly has been extended and she will now serve until 31 October 2010.