Manchester Hospital’s maternity unit rating degraded following CQC inspection and told it ‘requires improvement’

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The findings of the inspection have been published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The maternity ward at Manchester’s St Mary’s Hospital has been told it requires improvement. This comes following an inspection from the CQC, the findings of which have been published today (July 28).  

The hospital in general was given the rating of ‘requires improvement’, and this was a rating also given to the hospital’s maternity unit. This is a reduced rating for the unit from its last inspection. 

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Findings and reasoning as to why the rating was downgraded on this inspection were included within the CQC report. Not all staff completed training in key skills, they were not up-to-date with required mandatory and safeguarding training. 

Another point was that the service did not always control infection risk well and also that staff did not always have access to enough suitable equipment to provide safe care and treatment to women, birthing people and babies. Staff did not always assess, monitor nor manage risks to women, birthing people and babies. The inspectors also found that opportunities to prevent or minimise harm were missed as the service did not operate effective and timely triage processes. 

There were positives taken from the visit, with the CQC publishing some of these within the report too. The report found that staff worked well together for the benefit of women and birthing people and understood how to protect women and birthing people from abuse.

There was also evidence that staff kept equipment and the premises visibly clean. Staff kept good care records. They managed medicines well. Leaders ran services using reliable information systems and supported staff to develop their skills.

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However, in terms of being safe, the maternity ward was given a rating of ‘inadequate’. The inspection found that staff were not up to date with mandatory training exercises. 

It was also found that not all members of staff had training on how to recognise and report abuse. The inspectors also raised concerns that although staff kept equipment and the premises visibly clean, the service did not always control infection risk well. 

The number of fully qualified midwives was another issue raised by the CQC inspection. The report found the service did not always have enough maternity staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep women safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment. Staffing levels did not always match the planned numbers putting the safety of women and birthing people and babies at risk.

 A spokesperson for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for St Mary’s, said: “Although the CQC report highlighted several areas of good practice across our maternity services, we were naturally disappointed with the overall rating.

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St Mary's Hospital ManchesterSt Mary's Hospital Manchester
St Mary's Hospital Manchester | Manchester University Hospital Trust

 “The inspection took place in March 2023, and we took immediate action on the initial feedback we received by embarking on a focused programme of improvements. These have included reducing waiting times in triage, investing in staff to increase the number of operating lists available, providing additional staff in key areas of the service, increasing numbers of senior doctors available during peak times, and launching a wide-reaching campaign to recruit more midwives. 

 “We have confidence in our ability to improve maternity services for women and their families, and our teams have made good progress. In line with NHS England’s three-year ‘Maternity and neonatal improvement plan’ we can and will do more. We are committed to continuously improving our services, not only meeting the expectations of those who use our services but exceeding them.”

To read the full report, visit the CQC website.

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