Staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital were today praised by the NHS watchdog for the “outstanding” compassion shown to their young patients.

Inspectors said children and their parents often treated doctors and nurses as “old family friends”, and observed staff “going the extra mile” to ensure the highest levels of patient dignity and respect.

Today’s report by the Care Quality Commission rated the hospital, one of four dedicated children’s hospitals in the UK, as “good” overall, and its ability to provide effective and caring services as “outstanding”.

It said there was a “tangible level of staff working together in pursuit of excellence of care”. All 4,000 employees supported the mission statement: “The child first and always”.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “We saw a culture of providing excellent care with compassion and commitment from all staff throughout Great Ormond Street Hospital, which was fully appreciated by patients, their families and carers.

“The children and young people we met were extremely positive about the treatment they received and parents told us they were very happy with the standards of care provided by trust staff.”

Inspectors visited the hospital – the beneficiary of the Evening Standard’s Christmas appeal – in April and May. They found an “open and transparent culture” and children being involved in choices about their care. The 400-bed hospital has 43,000 inpatients and 213,000 outpatient appointments a year.

New chief executive Dr Peter Steer was “very visible” – after a “succession” of recent bosses had “posed a challenge to leadership” – and staff were open when things went wrong, the report said.

The hospital had reduced its mortality rate from 3.8 per cent three years ago to 1.6 per cent. Almost 44 per cent of its 570 doctors were consultants, well above the NHS average. Seven-day working was in place for many services, with a consultant presence on wards at weekends.

Extra clinics were laid on to tackle a “large backlog of patients” waiting more than 18 weeks for non-emergency surgery. The hospital was ordered to improve its record-keeping – currently a mixture of paper and electronic records – after it lost track of the follow-up care given to many outpatients, first revealed by the Standard last year, due to the “unreliability” of systems and an “inconsistent” approach to patients accessing care.