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Inadequate maternity services for women

Women in the area are facing inadequate maternity services.

One of the largest NHS Trusts in England has been ordered to improve its maternity services, following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The Jessop Wing maternity unit in Sheffield was told it must take urgent action to improve the standard of care for women.

Maternity services were downgraded from outstanding to inadequate after inspectors found multiple areas of concern for the safety of mothers and babies, including dangerously low staffing levels.

In one incident, one midwife and one clinical support worker were caring for two new mothers who were waiting for beds, two women who needed advanced obstetric care, a woman with a post-birth haemorrhage, a high-risk neonatal baby, and a diabetic mother, as well as a woman waiting for a caesarean section.

Inspectors also found that staff caring for mothers were not fully aware of patient history because the patient record systems were not linked up.

Sarah Dronsfield, head of hospital inspection for the CQC, said: “Due to the concerns we found that needed addressing as a priority, we have imposed urgent conditions on the trust’s registration which require immediate action in order to make sure people receive the care they are entitled to.”

The trust has now given the CQC a detailed action plan on how they intend to reduce the risks identified, following the unannounced inspection visits on 9 and 10 March.

The conditions imposed on the trust include ensuring staff are suitably qualified for their role. The trust must also ensure it has a robust process in place for investigating serious incidents, ensuring they are recorded according to national protocols and, crucially, learning lessons from them. There must also be an improvement in the standard of infection control.

The CQC did find examples of good practice, including equality and diversity and  staff being ‘caring and focused’ on the needs of women.

The trusts CEO, Kirsten Major, said: “I want to assure women coming into the Jessop Wing to have their babies that our maternity teams work incredibly hard every day to ensure their care is always a number one priority and whilst we are exceptionally disappointed with the findings of the CQC report, we welcome the external scrutiny and have wasted no time in responding to the actions which have been identified as necessary.

This comes only days after maternity services at Doncaster Royal Infirmary were criticised over the death of baby Clay, who died from multiple skull fractures. His death was included in a report by the BBC Panorama programme, highlighting significant patient safety concerns at the hospital.

Have you experienced substandard maternity care or birth injuries? Call and have a confidential chat with us about your options – 01302 320621 or email