Hospital bosses say maternity service is ‘now in line with national guidance’

PUBLISHED: 15:40 13 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:40 13 March 2020

West Suffolk Hospital Picture: GREGG BROWN

West Suffolk Hospital Picture: GREGG BROWN

A maternity unit that was deemed by regulators to need “significant” improvements is now in line with national guidance, health bosses have said.

The West Suffolk Hospital department was served a warning notice last year following inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that found 'significant concerns and risks' to mothers and newborn babies.

The CQC has said maternity services in parts of England are not making improvements in safety fast enough, but noted there is some positive change, as it published the findings of a review yesterday.

MORE: Maternity department told to 'make improvements'

West Suffolk Hospital bosses said the department was now meeting national guidance, adding its new head of midwifery continues to monitor this closely.

Rowan Procter, executive chief nurse for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'We have addressed the immediate safety concerns raised in our CQC inspection, which were largely around how we record patient observations and making some changes to the way we monitor the women in our care.

'We have taken this feedback seriously and will keep driving improvements, so we ensure the mothers and babies at our hospital are safe and well cared for.'

MORE: NHS boss apologises for failings in care at hospital

Earlier this year the trust's chief executive Stephen Dunn apologised for the short-comings of the hospital following a critical report from the CQC which rated the Bury St Edmunds site as 'requires improvement', slamming the hospital for care of newborns, outpatient services and staff relations.

Independent watchdog Healthwatch Suffolk said mothers had expressed concerns to them over the availability of staff, the extent to which their pain levels are monitored and infection control measures.

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A Healthwatch Suffolk spokesman said at the time: 'Whilst feedback concerning maternity staff is mixed in sentiment, there is a high level of praise for midwives and the kind support offered to mothers during and after the birth of their baby.'

In its briefing yesterday, the CQC said five years on from a major review that highlighted serious issues in maternity care many of those same problems still exist.

Dr Nigel Acheson, CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for maternity, said while there had been some improvements in quality 'we are still seeing too much variation in quality and safety across the country'.

He said: 'In some cases we have seen services where staff do not have the right skills or knowledge, where poor working relationships between obstetricians, midwives and neonatologists pose a barrier to safe care, and where there is limited oversight of risk and a lack of investigation and learning when things go wrong.

'The continued national focus on the safety of maternity services is welcome - and we are seeing some positive change.

'However, the progress made does not yet meet the scale of the challenge and we must accelerate efforts at pace if the improvements in safety are to be achieved with the urgency needed.'

The CQC said the change needed in 'safety culture' has not been consistently delivered across the country.

The briefing is based on analysis of published inspection reports, the results of a 2019 maternity survey and the thoughts of care providers and members of the public.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust was rated inadequate for how well-led its maternity service was in its most recent inspections.

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