THE boss of the NHS trust which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital said coming out of special measures is a welcome "morale boost".

And Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, stressed hospitals will be prepared for the Covid-19 battle if there is a tough winter ahead.

The trust, which also manages the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital, has been in special measures since December 2015 after watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised serious concerns over quality and patient care.

But Mr Hopkins said staff he had seen in corridors had a spring in their step, after he told them regulators had seen significant improvements in safety and quality of patient care to lift the trust out of special measures.

Mr Hopkins said: "Staff have been brilliant, resilient and resolute throughout the last six months, putting patients first during this Covid period.

"I'm hoping it will be a well earned boost ahead of the next push, because we are seeing a slight increase in the number of inpatients with Covid, so this will give a good morale boost."

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Mr Hopkins said there had been various work going on behind the scenes for years to get to this point, highlighting the centralisation of services, making sure the patient experience was at the forefront of staff's mind, clear and simple messaging and ensuring capacity had increased to keep up demand.

"As people have got older the demands on the health service have grown - for example the emergency department at Worcestershire Royal was built for half the number of attendees (they see) on a daily basis," Mr Hopkins said.

"What we have been trying to do in recent years is close that capacity demand gap, for example opening 99 beds in the past 12 months across the Alex and Worcestershire Royal, which has made a big difference."

Mr Hopkins said reaching the "requires improvement" rating last year proved to them they were heading in the right direction, but getting the confirmation of the special measures lift on Thursday had been "fantastic news for colleagues across our trust".

On the challenge of Covid-19 Mr Hopkins said the trust worked extremely well during the first peak.

"We were able to ensure our hospital beds were only filled with people who really needed to be in a bed so the discharge processes were much more efficient," he said.

"We were able to cope with high numbers in our hospitals.

"The same sort of approach to planning response is being made, we are having daily control meetings.

"So as long as all our partners again pull together we will be able to cope."