QCQ report says Stoke Mandeville Hospital must improve its maternity services

Concerns were raised over the high amount of vacancies
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A new report from the Care Quality Commission has raised alarm at the maternity services in Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Today (25 October), the CQC has published a report that states Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust the service must become safer.

Results published today, form part of the CQC’s national maternity services inspection programme.

Stoke Mandeville HospitalStoke Mandeville Hospital
Stoke Mandeville Hospital

This is the first time maternity services at Stoke Mandeville Hospital have been rated as a standalone core service. Previously, maternity and gynaecology services were inspected and rated together.

Leadership on the maternity ward was rated as good in the same report, which is based on inspections carried out in June.

The overall ratings for Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust both remain as good overall. The report can be read in full online.

Carolyn Jenkinson, CQC’s deputy director of secondary and specialist healthcare, said: “When we inspected maternity services at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, it was encouraging to see leaders had the necessary skills and abilities to run the service. They also understood and managed the priorities and issues the service faced, and staff spoke highly of them. However, there were areas where improvements needed to be made.

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“There were high vacancy and sickness rates, and staff told us the low numbers of staff made them feel like aspects of the service could be unsafe. Sickness rates were increasing as staff became more stressed. However, leaders in the service took action to manage change when risks were identified.

“The environment in the triage area made it impossible to maintain confidentiality during any telephone calls, face-to-face conversations, or assessments.

“We also heard all the information requested and shared during telephone calls which included identifiable information, such as the caller’s name and date-of-birth, which we heard staff repeat. We overheard the advice staff provided too. It was also not possible for staff to discuss sensitive information such as safeguarding concerns in confidence. This meant safety of people using the services could be compromised or people might be put off from telling staff they are at risk.

“There were delays in triage when people arrived at the maternity unit waiting to be seen by a medical staff member. Sometimes the triage telephone helpline wasn’t staffed which meant people couldn’t always access timely advice and support. It also meant there was a risk people could arrive at hospital when they didn’t need to.

“We were told that a quality improvement project around triage had started in February. Its aim was to improve the flow, ensure timely risk assessments took place, and improve the environment. Leaders has recently introduced a designated waiting area as part of this triage improvement plan, and we’re looking forward to returning and seeing the difference these changes might make in people’s care.

“We will continue to monitor the trust closely, including through future inspections, to ensure the necessary and urgent improvements are made and embedded so women, people using the service and their babies receive the safe and appropriate care they deserve.”