Maternity services at Bedford Hospital have improved says Care Quality Commission - but more needs to be done

An unannounced inspection was carried out in June, with the report published today

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 9:50 am
Updated Thursday, 12th August 2021, 9:52 am

A report published today (August 12) by the Care Quality Commission has revealed that maternity services at Bedford Hospital have improved - but that there is still more to be done to manage safety risks.

The CQC carried out an unannounced inspection in June to find out if the maternity services had met the conditions of a warning it has served following concerns over staffing levels, insufficient staff training and a poor culture among employees.

This latest inspection found some improvements had been made - but that Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust still has some areas to address to ensure it manages all risks to people’s safety.

Bedford Hospital

And the previous rating of 'Inadequate' has not changed, though the overall trust rating remains as 'Good'.

Philippa Styles, CQC’s head of hospital Inspection, said: “When inspectors visited the maternity service at Bedford Hospital, they were pleased to see that some improvements had been made since our last inspection, however, more work needs to be done to ensure women receive the appropriate level of care to ensure their birth experience is safe and supportive.

Doctors, midwives and nurses worked well together to support women in their care, but some staff did not always feel supported or valued and felt unable to raise concerns.

“Under staffing within midwifery remained a concern as it impacted on staff morale and their ability to undertake training, however we did not see any evidence of this impacting negatively on women’s safety.

“During the previous inspection we found that staff often didn’t have time to report incidents. We were pleased to see that staff now recognised and reported incidents and had a management team who investigated these, and shared lessons learned with the whole service to ensure the service was much safer.

“We have reported our findings to the trust leadership, which knows what it must do to ensure improvements are made so staff, patients and babies are fully supported.”

Mandatory training not completed due to under staffing

Many staff were unable to complete mandatory training such as safeguarding due to under staffing.

However, service leads were working on plans to improve this area with locum and agency staff being brought in to care for patients to enable trust staff to have dedicated time for training.

There had been leadership changes and new roles added to the maternity team since CQC’s last inspection which had improved the general running of the service and how risks were managed.

Staff felt that managers had the ability to make changes and were confident that they shared a vision for the service. However, the leadership team was relatively new and had not had sufficient time to ensure changes to the service were fully embedded.

'There is more we need to do'

Liz Lees, Chief Nurse at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re pleased the CQC has acknowledged the changes we have already made since the original inspection, including the recruitment of new midwives, consultants and leaders, and are determined to continue this work and ensure our positive changes made become embedded.

“We’re committed to delivering excellent care and know there is more we need to do, so will continue to work at pace deliver further improvements and ensure our maternity service always meets the high standards of care we want to give.”

Following the inspection, the trust must ensure the following improvements are made:

• The trust should meet their own targets for staff completing mandatory training, safeguarding and any additional role specific training, to make sure they have the right skills to keep mothers and babies safe.

• There must be adequate numbers of staff to meet the demands of the service, including, midwives and medical staff.

• All staff must follow infection control and prevention practices.

• Risk assessments and patient records must be completed accurately and reflect risks based on full assessments, to ensure staff have all the information they need quickly to keep people safe.

• There must be a dedicated triage team for the management of women attending the service, to minimise delays in people receiving the right care.