Hospital bringing in 23 midwives to improve maternity services

Press conference on Care Quality Commission at Colchester Hospital.

There will be improvements to maternity services at Colchester Hospital in the coming months - Credit: Gregg Brown

A pattern of “sustainability” within Colchester Hospital’s midwifery team will be evident within the next four months, the hospital’s head of midwifery has said.

The comments from Roslyn Bullen-Bell, director of midwifery at at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which covers Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, come after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the service did not always have enough staff to care for women and keep them safe when it visited in April last year.

Since then the trust has committed to developing and increasing the resilience of its maternity workforce and has put in place a ‘Recruitment and Retention Midwife’ – a midwife with a special interest in understanding any barriers there may be to recruitment or anything leading to midwives to want to leave.

Of its pool of 17 additional midwives who have been successfully recruited from other countries, the trust say two have started this month, and that other colleagues from overseas will be starting work over the coming months.
It also has 23 trainee midwives who are about to qualify and who wish to stay with the trust.

As a result of the inspection, the Trust’s CQC rating for maternity services changed from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’.

But Ms Bullen-Bell said that she hoped new practices would help turn that round soon.

She said: “We have got 23 newly qualified midwives and all of them would like to stay in East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.”

CQC said sustained periods of reduced staffing and issues with the management of the maternity triage system and the process for induction of labour impacted on staff wellbeing and their confidence in keeping themselves and women and babies safe.

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It added staff were not always compliant with important training, for example, sepsis and safeguarding training to protect women from harm or abuse.

Medicines were not always stored correctly and there were gaps in emergency equipment checks.

The service had been without a clear strategy with aligned governance processes – staff were unclear about their roles and responsibilities as a result.

It added staff did not always feel respected, supported and valued by the trust and the leadership teams.

Ms Bullen-Bell said: “We do see that within the next four months that we hope we will be at that stage where we know it is all embedded and that anyone can come back and see that sustainability.”