HEALTH secretary Jeremy Hunt has praised Basildon Hospital’s “fantastic achievement” in improving enough to be allowed out of special measures.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Hunt referred to the decision by NHS watchdog Monitor to relax the regime of regular checks and supervision it imposed after ruling the hospital was failing last summer.

The Keogh Review highlighted Basildon’s higher-than-average death rates and staffing levels.

Mr Hunt said: “I think the chief executive there, Clare Panniker, is an exemplary one.

“She wrote an article in the Guardian, pointing out it is incredibly painful for trusts when they go into special measures, that it causes a lot of pressure in the local media, but that it also means that change can be made much more quickly when an urgency to solve these problems, many of which have been around for years and years, is created.

“I commend the staff of that hospital, not just for coming out of special measures, but for being rated ‘good’ by the chief inspector of hospitals – a fantastic achievement.”