Health inspector orders improvements at hospitals

AN independent inspection of maternity units in Bath and Swindon found there were not enough midwives.

As a result, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has ordered Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to improve staffing.

The Princess Anne Wing, at Bath’s Royal United Hospital but run by the GWH Trust, was also ordered to take action on cleanliness and infection control after the commission found essential standards were not being met.

The commission also visited Trowbridge Community Hospital’s birthing centre and found it met standards for staffing, cleanliness, infection control and care and welfare of patients.

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was developing an action plan in response to the findings.

The CQC inspected all three units in December and published its findings yesterday.

At the Princess Anne Wing, the CQC said some GWH Trust staff felt there were not enough staff as demand for hospital births increased.

The trust said its ratio of midwives to births at the Princess Anne Wing was one midwife to 38 births but the national recommended ratio is one midwife to 28 births.

On cleanliness, the CQC said: “We were told patients and their partners found the hospital clean and well organised. During our inspection we found the arrangements for cleaning did not provide staff with a clear definition of specific roles and responsibilities.

“The environment was not maintained in some areas to facilitate prevention and control of infections.”

The Bath maternity unit delivered 4,003 babies in 2011/12, an increase of just under 600 births since 2008/9.

At GWH, the CQC was told the ratio of midwives was one to 44 births. The GWH Trust said it was short of almost six full-time staff in the acute maternity unit but exceeded staffing levels on the midwife-led White Horse Birthing Centre in the hospital.

GWH delivered 3,700 babies in the acute maternity unit and 877 in the White Horse Birthing Centre in 2011/12, an increase of just under 550 births since 2008/9.

Both GWH and the Princess Anne Wing in Bath met the other standard inspected by the CQC of respecting and involving patients.

Hilary Walker, GWH Trust chief nurse, said: “Improving staffing has been identified as a priority at the Great Western Hospital and at the Princess Anne Wing, as it is for many other maternity services across the country.

“We have already started planning to increase the number of qualified, skilled and experienced midwives.”

She said the trust had just secured £400,000 from the Department of Health to refurbish the Princess Anne Wing, which would make cleaning and infection control measures much easier and more effective.

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