Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ maternity services downgraded

The Care Quality Commission has taken urgent action to keep people safe following an unannounced focused inspection of maternity services at the Jessop Wing run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ chief nurse and chief executive has assured women coming to the hospital that they will continue to receive safe, good care, following the decision to lower the maternity service rating from Outstanding to Inadequate. The inspection was only on maternity care and did not cover the Neonatal Unit, Gynaecology, or Jessops Fertility services.

The inspection covered three of the five CQC domains. Safe, Well Led and Effective. The other two domains of Responsive (rated as outstanding) and Caring (rated as good) were not reviewed at this inspection and remain unchanged. However new ratings were given for the other three domains which led to an overall drop in the service rating to Inadequate.

Following the inspection, the CQC required the trust to take immediate action to address some systems and processes which they considered were not robust enough around risk management, learning from incidents and triage and assessment. The trust has responded with an action plan and many of the inspection recommendations have already been implemented. Inspectors also felt that midwifery staffing levels in some areas were lower than recommended by national guidance and had been impacted on by a number of vacancies. However, since the inspection three months ago, 30 new midwives have been offered posts and will be joining the Jessop Wing team in September. 14 Midwifery Support Workers have also been appointed and a further 11 are in training.

Kirsten Major, chief executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I want to assure women coming into Jessop Wing to have their babies that our maternity teams work incredibly hard every day to ensure their care is always the number one priority and whilst we are exceptionally disappointed with the findings of the CQC report, we welcome the external scrutiny and have wasted no time in responding to the actions which have been identified as necessary. Many of the actions have been completed in the three months since the inspection took place. For example, our governance and risk processes are being reviewed including how we learn from incidents and respond to data collected nationally and locally.

“Elements of our assessment process needed further review which we have done and whilst our midwifery staffing levels have not declined, we are taking on board what the CQC has said and have already recruited 30 new midwives to ensure we continue to deliver the care women have come to expect from Jessop Wing. We clearly have some improvements to make but we are encouraged by the feedback from families who use the service which is very positive and reflects the commitment of our staff to provide good care and more often than not go above and beyond what is required of them.”

Sarah Dronsfield, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said: “When we visited maternity services in the Jessop Wing at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, inspectors found a service that was not providing the standard of care women should be able to expect. Our findings were such that the ratings for maternity services across the trust have moved from outstanding to inadequate.

“Due to the concerns we found that needed addressing as a priority, we have imposed urgent conditions on the trust’s registration which require immediate action in order to make sure people receive the care they are entitled to. However, we also found some areas of good practice and a culture where staff felt respected, valued and supported. Staff were caring and focused on the needs of the women receiving care, and the service also promoted equality and diversity in daily work.

“Following the inspection, the trust has provided an action plan detailing what they are doing to reduce these risks and we have discussed the first stages of the improvements the trust has taken. We continue to monitor the trust extremely closely and expect them to continue to make rapid improvements. The trust leadership team know what they must do to improve patient safety and we will re-inspect to ensure this happens, taking further action if needed to protect patients.”

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