“Motivated and engaged”staff have been credited with driving significant progress in Walsall Healthcare’s Maternity Services which have received an improved rating following an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC has given the service an overall rating of Requires Improvement with a rating of Good for the caring domain after re-inspecting it in June this year. Maternity Services were rated as “Inadequate” when the CQC inspected the Trust in June 2017.
The Trust’s Transitional Care Unit, which provides extra care for newborn babies who don’t need the level of care of a neonatal unit, has been hailed as an example of “outstanding practice.” The CQC highlights the unit as “an innovative and dedicated approach to postnatal care.
The CQC has also highlighted areas of poor practice which include information not being accessible for all, greater compliance of mandatory training and some remaining cultural issues.
Richard Beeken, Trust Chief Executive, said: “Our staff should be really proud of themselves for the way they have responded to last year’s disappointing rating and given the CQC greater confidence in our Maternity Services.
“We’re realistic about the work that we still need to do but this report shows that we are making significant progress and heading in the right direction.”
In its report published today (Wednesday 15 August), the CQC describes staff as being “proud of the service” and refers to a “much more positive” culture. Concerns raised in the Warning Notice issued to Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust in 2017, which included insufficient staffing levels and the monitoring of Cardiotocography (fetal heartbeat), have been addressed and improvements made.
The report states: “Staff were motivated and engaged with driving improvement for the service.“Senior staff were now actively accepting and addressing the problems identified. There had been a significant shift in the attitude of consultants who were reacting well to the changes required.
“Consultants told us the senior leadership team understood the pressures of the department and described them as very supportive. Leaders monitored improvements via a robust maternity improvement plan which everyone understood.
“Without exception we observed all staff interactions with patients were caring and supportive. Maternity staff confirmed that the department was a calmer, more supportive environment.”
While staffing levels have improved, the caesarean rate has reduced and specialist midwives for normality, bereavement and vulnerable families have been appointed, inspectors were concerned that there may not be enough staff if the current birthing cap was removed and the Midwifery-Led Unit was re-opened for women to give birth there.
Nicola Wenlock, Divisional Director of Midwifery, Gynaecology and Sexual Health, said: “Last year’s rating was very disappointing for both those working in Maternity Services and the women accessing our care.
“We were determined to turn things around and reassure women and their families that they could depend on us for the safe, high-quality care they deserve and expect. I would personally like to thank staff for everything they’ve done to achieve this fantastic improvement. Here’s to Maternity Services continuing to improve.”
Mr Fateh Ghazal, Clinical Director, added: “The improved rating is testament to the teamwork shown by our midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, paediatricians and senior leaders. These efforts are having a positive impact on the service but the challenge now is to keep up this momentum.
“Careful consideration is being given to the lifting of the birthing cap and the re-opening of the Midwifery-Led Unit for births in the future.
“We know that we need to keep up our pace of change, tackle the cultural issues that still exist – albeit on a much smaller scale – and continue to improve engagement and communication. But we have the determination and commitment to do so and ensure our services are sustainable for the future.”
Click here to read the full report.