Maternity services "require improvement" at John Radcliffe Hospital

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor

Maternity Services at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford are no longer rated as good, after an unannounced inspection by the CQC (Care Quality Commission) identified a number of issues with the service.

The CQC said that until changes are made to Maternity Services, the rating has dropped to "Requires improvement".

The inspection, which took place in May this year, highlighted a number of areas which require improvement.

These areas include:

  • Although most staff said they were encouraged to be open and honest with people when things went wrong, some staff reported that they were not always comfortable raising concerns without fear of what would happen if they did.

  • Although most staff felt they received support from their immediate manager, some said they felt that communication between senior management and staff was not always effective.

  • The overall impact was that some staff did not always feel respected, supported and valued.

  • The inspectors also had concerns that staff did not always undertake all the necessary risk assessments for women in their care, particularly in relation to domestic violence, and they did not always manage medicines well.

  • In addition, the inspectors found that the environment meant that staff could not always respect women’s privacy and dignity.

The trust behind the hospital, Oxford University Hospitals, said it has developed a comprehensive action plan to address these areas for improvement.

The report also highlighted a number of positive areas, which showed the commitment of staff and how proud they were to work for the trust.

Other positives include:

  • Staff provided good care and treatment and worked well together for the benefit of women in their care.

  • The service engaged well with women and the community to plan and manage services and all staff were committed to improving services continually.

  • The service planned care to meet the needs of local people, took account of women’s individual needs, and made it easy for people to give feedback.

  • Inspectors found that most staff said that they were proud to work for the Trust and that they felt respected and able to raise concerns without fear.

  • They found that there was an emphasis on learning and positive working relationships – staff had regular multi-disciplinary meetings to discuss the women and babies in their care, where staff were encouraged to share learning, which meant there was a ‘no blame’ approach.

  • The senior leadership team in the Trust’s maternity services considered staff wellbeing to be a priority and a wellbeing group was established during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable staff to talk openly about issues that were concerning them.

  • Staff were also encouraged to provide feedback, which could be anonymous, through a staff survey and series of listening events were also held – feedback was used to create an action plan to improve the service.

Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford University Hospitals, said: “On behalf of the Trust Board, I would like to thank all staff working in our maternity services for their positive approach to the CQC inspection in May and for everything that they do every day to look after the women and babies in their care.

“I am delighted that the CQC inspectors have publicly recognised in the report published today that our maternity staff provide good care and treatment and work well together for the benefit of women in their care, and also identified a number of other positive areas.

“However, it is important to acknowledge that the CQC inspectors also found significant areas for improvement and raised concerns which have resulted in the rating for our maternity services going down from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires improvement’.

“The Trust Board is working with the senior management team in our maternity services to develop a comprehensive action plan to address these areas for improvement and concerns. Completion of the action plan will be monitored through the Trust’s governance processes and completion dates for key actions will be agreed.”