An unannounced Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of maternity services at one of England's largest hospital trusts concluded that mothers and babies are still at risk because Sheffield Teaching Hospitals does not have enough properly trained and qualified staff to keep women and infants "safe from avoidable harm".
Amy Greaves, experienced medical negligence solicitor in our Birmingham office commented:
“The CQC report again raises the issues with CTG interpretation and failure to appropriately assess patient risk, as highlighted by Donna Ockenden, but consistently this latest inspection report, as well as several other previous investigations of failing maternity services, once again questions whether in some cases the trust management and leadership have the skills and abilities to run the service and can implement the meaningful changes that are needed to improve patient safety."
Maternity services in Sheffield were downgraded from "outstanding" to "inadequate" in Spring 2021 after CQC inspectors concluded that the Trust’s Jessop Wing maternity unit did not deliver the standard of care women should be able to expect. The CQC inspection team raised several concerns and imposed urgent conditions on the Trust's registration which required immediate action.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust responded to that initial report, maintaining that it had "wasted no time" in addressing the issues raised. However, a follow up inspection in October 2021 found that there was little or no improvement to the quality of care patients received and in some areas the service had deteriorated even further.
This most recent inspection found that a number of previously identified problems, which were depressingly similar to the failings identified by the Ockenden Report into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust (and also present in reviews of maternity services at other trusts including East Kent, Morecambe Bay and Nottingham) had still had not been adequately addressed.
As with all the other examples of failing maternity services, inspectors also found persistent problems with the use of cardiotocography (CTG) equipment used to monitor foetal heartrate. Significant concerns remained about the assessment of patients in the labour ward assessment unit, and delays in induction of labour. Staff did not always treat women with compassion and kindness or take account of their individual needs.
For their part, staff reported difficulties summoning appropriate assistance when a woman's health deteriorated. Record keeping was also poor, with key information not always included at shift changes and some serious incidents not officially logged. The CQC will continue to monitor Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust extremely closely and say they expect to see rapid improvements.
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022