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Thursday, 29 November 2018

NHS trust at centre of maternity care probe rated 'inadequate' by health inspectors

Written by Tom Pilgrim

A hospital trust at the centre of a maternity care scandal has been criticised by health inspectors in a new report.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) as "inadequate" in findings published on Thursday.

The trust runs Shropshire's two main hospitals, Telford's Princess Royal and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

It was placed into special measures earlier in November amid a review of more than 100 cases of alleged poor maternity care.

The CQC's report says inspectors are "particularly concerned" about the trust's emergency department and maternity services.

An inspection carried out between August 21 and September 21 rated the trust as inadequate overall, having previously been rated in the "requires improvement" category.

Trust chief executive Simon Wright apologised for its lack of progress but urged people "not to lose sight" of things it does well.

Overall, the trust's performance was rated inadequate for whether its services are safe and well-led, "requires improvement" for the efficacy and responsiveness of services, and "good" for whether its services are caring.

Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: "While we found staff to be caring and dedicated, there is clearly much work needed at the trust to ensure care is delivered in a way that ensures people are safe."

The CQC has told the trust it must now make changes in 81 areas to boost its standard of care.

This includes improving midwifery staffing levels and taking into account the findings of a review of maternity services by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The trust should also improve how it escalates cases of women at high risk at the midwifery-led unit or day assessment unit and review its policy on reduced foetal movements for midwives and sonographers.

Other required improvements cover the maintenance of safe environments, speeding up complaints handling, the secure storage of medicines and records and the administering of antibiotics for patients with suspected sepsis.

The CQC said inspectors had also found some examples of "outstanding practice" in the trust's end-of-life, maternity and critical care services.

In a statement, the trust said some of the CQC concerns had been addressed through recruitment and improved reporting by its maternity services.

Mr Wright said: "You cannot be unaffected by a report like this. I'm sorry and disappointed that we have not made as much progress to tackle the issues and challenges that the trust faces as we all want.

"But people should not lose sight of many things that SaTH does not just well but significantly better than many other trusts around the country.

"I know how hard staff are working, how passionate they are about what they do and the care they provide.

"We will take to heart the CQC's findings just as we welcome the extra support that is coming with special measures, to double down on the need to get things right and improve for the people we serve."

Senior midwife Donna Ockenden was appointed last year to review 23 cases of alleged poor maternity care at SaTH.

The trust has since said it is in contact with more than 200 families - not all in relation to allegations of poor care - with some cases going back 20 to 30 years.

The CQC previously said unannounced inspections of some services at the trust's hospitals led to concerns about its reduced foetal movements guidelines at its maternity units.

Inspectors also raised concerns about the trust's urgent and emergency care, particularly with regard to the treatment and recognition of sepsis.

In October, the CQC said it was taking action at the trust following inspections of its maternity and emergency departments.

And in November, the trust entered special measures after Prof Baker wrote of his concerns to the chief executive of NHS Improvement.

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