Countess of Chester Hospital's maternity services unsafe for mothers and babies, watchdog finds

Countess of Chester Hospital

A hospital in the North West has been told it must make improvements after an inspection found its maternity services were unsafe for mothers and babies.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the hospital's maternity services had deteriorated to "inadequate" following the inspection in February and March 2022.

Findings show the area is "lacking in staff" and "suitable equipment" and that the health trust failed to learn from previous safety incidents.

Karen Knapton, CQC's head of hospital inspection, said: "We recognise NHS services are under enormous pressure.

"However, senior leaders must be visible and have good oversight to manage and mitigate challenges and risks - and we found this was lacking at this trust."

Medical care, surgery and urgent and emergency services still "require improvement". Credit: PA

The CQC say the investigation was carried out in response to concerns about the quality of care in certain areas of the hospital.

According to the report, medical care, surgery and urgent and emergency services still "require improvement".

It also found the effectiveness of the health trust's leadership had worsened and that they "hadn't successfully captured key information regarding the quality of patient care and emerging risks across the trust."

In a statement in response to the CQC report, Dr Susan Gilby, Chief Executive at the Trust said: "The report illustrates where more progress must still be made to ensure the Trust can provide the highest quality of treatment to the local community, which we are committed to delivering. In our Maternity Department, we have implemented and are continuing to develop measures to ensure we can consistently provide patients with the safe and effective care they have a right to expect.

"Despite unprecedented pressure, the Trust's urgent and emergency services were able to maintain a 'good' performance in terms of its provision of effective and caring treatment, which is a testament to the professionalism and commitment of our staff. 

"We are now working hard across the Trust to implement the CQC’s recommendations, so we can continue to make improvements and deliver increasingly high-quality care to our communities in the future."