Lister Hospital: Stevenage maternity service rated inadequate

Care at a maternity unit “falls short of what women should be able to expect”, the health watchdog has found.

The service at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage has seen its rating drop from good to inadequate after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

It has served a warning notice to the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which means it is legally required to make improvements.

The trust said a “detailed improvement plan” would be implemented.

October’s CQC inspection found women and babies were not receiving the standards of care that “they have a right to expect”.

A report said there was insufficient staff to “provide good care” and while training was provided to all workers, “steps were not taken to ensure everyone completed it”.

It said people could not access the service when needed and that staff did not always assess risks to women and act on them.

It added that equipment needed more regular servicing and cleanliness must improve.

The report found some good practice including that staff worked well together and “improvement, research and innovation were prioritised”.

A warning notice means the trust must make improvements to avoid further enforcement action.

The CQC’s head of hospital inspection, Carolyn Jenkinson, said she was “very concerned by the deterioration in the quality and safety” of the Lister’s maternity care, which “falls short of what women should be able to expect”.

“This drop in quality and safety was down to insufficient management from leaders to ensure staff understood their roles, and to ensure the service was available to people when they needed it,” she said.

“Our inspection found the service lacked enough staff to provide good care and keep people safe.

“This was worsened because training targets weren’t being met, meaning even when there were enough staff, they didn’t always have the right skills.

“We continue to monitor the service and the wider trust, including through future inspections, to support it to deliver safe and effective patient care.”

Trust chief executive, Adam Sewell-Jones, said the hospital “remains a safe place to give birth” and, while its staffing levels were in-line with other maternity units in the east of England, since the inspection it had recruited 17 more midwives.

“However we take this report very seriously and our new director of midwifery has already led immediate and thorough action to increase cleanliness, and to ensure that our equipment is up to the required standard,” he said.

“We have a detailed improvement plan to address remaining issues and will report openly on our progress.”

The £16.5m unit opened in 2011 and brought all the trust’s maternity services under one roof following the closure of its service at the QEII in Welwyn Garden City.


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