'Further improvements' required at West Suffolk Hospital following inspection

West Suffolk Hospital is managed by the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Credit: ITV Anglia News

The Care Quality Commission has published a report following an inspection of maternity services at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

The Care Quality Commission inspected maternity services at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds in April, assessing whether it had met the conditions of a warning notice previously served regarding safety risks to patients.

Inspectors found the trust had improved all issues identified on the previous inspection which led to the warning notice, but further improvements were needed across the service.

Following the inspection, the rating for the maternity service remained requires improvement. The trust's overall rating is unchanged by this inspection.

Philippa Styles, CQC's head of hospital inspection, said: "At our previous inspection we found that women were not consistently asked if they were at risk of domestic abuse. We saw improvements in this area and the staff now knew how to identify adults and children at risk of harm and worked with other agencies to protect them. 

"However, the trust has more work to do in some areas. The service was frequently short staffed and had to rely on calling in staff from other areas to cover the labour suite and maternity ward. Staff told us these shortages impacted their welfare and at times they didn't feel listened to when they told senior leaders about these problems. 

"In addition, the service didn't have a nationally recognised tool in place to assess women meaning staff relied on their own decision making when triaging women meaning outcomes could vary from clinician to clinician.

"The trust knows where we expect to see improvements and we will continue to monitor the trust, including through future inspections."

The hospital said it was grateful for the supportive approach of the CQC, and its recognition of improvements that had been made, which had continued despite the problems of the pandemic.

The West Suffolk Hospital requires 'further improvements' Credit: ITV Anglia News

Following the inspection, CQC told the trust it must make the following improvements:

  • All medical and anaesthetic staff must meet mandatory training compliance levels.

  • The trust must implement a tool to safely triage women in the maternity day assessment unit and labour suite triage.

  • The trust must complete emergency drills in a baby abduction scenario.

  • The trust must ensure appropriate staffing levels within the service.

  • Equipment must be serviced within its due date.

  • Governance arrangements must comply with national recommendations and ensure oversight of local audits.