Mums 'much safer' since hospital watchdog warning – but 'more work' required

The accident took place outside West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maternity services still require improvement at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, despite inspectors finding positive changes since issuing a safety warning - Credit: Archant

Inspectors have found improvements at West Suffolk Hospital's maternity service since a warning notice was served regarding safety risks to patients.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) today published a report following a focused inspection of maternity services at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, in April, to assess whether or not the conditions of a previously served warning notice had been met. 

Inspectors found the trust had improved all issues identified by the previous inspection, which led to the warning notice, and that the service had a keen focus on quality improvement, but that further work was needed.

Following inspection, the rating for the maternity service – and the trust’s overall rating – remains 'requires improvement'.

Philippa Styles, CQC head of hospital inspection, said: “At our last inspection, we saw a service that wasn’t delivering the standard of care that women and babies should have been receiving.

"I am pleased that at this inspection the trust has responded to the issues we raised in the warning notice and women are receiving a much safer service. 

“At our previous inspection we found that women were not consistently asked if they were at risk of domestic abuse. We saw improvements in this area and the staff now knew how to identify adults and children at risk of harm and worked with other agencies to protect them. 

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“Leaders ran services well and supported staff to develop their skills. Staff understood the service’s vision and values, and how to apply them in their work and as a result all staff were focused on the needs of women receiving care.

“However, the trust has more work to do in some areas."

Inspectors found the service frequently short staffed and having to rely on calling in staff from other areas to cover the labour suite and maternity ward.

Staff were also reliant on their own decision making when triaging women, rather than on the basis of a nationally recognised assessment tool.

The CQC told the trust it must maintain appropriate staffing levels, implement a tool to safely triage women, and ensure medical and anaesthetic staff meet mandatory training compliance levels.

It must also complete emergency drills in a baby abduction scenario, service equipment within its due date, and ensure oversight of local audits and that governance arrangements comply with national recommendations.

The trust said nine midwives had been recruited since the previous inspection and that further recruitment continued.

Head of midwifery, Karen Newbury said: "We are very grateful for the very supportive approach of the CQC, and for their recognition of the many improvements that we have made, and continue to take forward, even during one of the most difficult periods ever for the NHS.

"I am pleased that we have retained Good ratings for our services being caring, and being responsive to people's needs, which reflects the feedback we have from the families we look after."

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