Inspectors demand improvements for maternity services in Plymouth

The overall rating for the hospital and trust also remains at 'requires improvement'. Credit: ITV News

An inspection of the largest hospital in the South West has found it needs further improvements to its maternity services.

Derriford Hospital in Plymouth has been told to improve its services following a report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in September.

The maternity service's rating dropped from 'good' to 'requires improvement'.

The inspection found women and babies were not always receiving the standard of care they have a 'right to expect'.

The inspection found:

  • There were not enough staff to care for women and keep them safe.

  • Staff did not always assess risks to women when they were admitted to the service or attended maternity triage.

  • Staff did not always receive adequate training in key skills, including emergency evacuation of the birth pool and safeguarding.

  • There were risks of documentation being incomplete before the implementation of a new IT system.

The hospital is run by University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, and the overall rating for the hospital and the trust did not change in this inspection, remaining at 'requires improvement'.

Carolyn Jenkinson, CQC deputy director of secondary and specialist healthcare, said: "At times, the quality and safety of maternity care at Derriford Hospital fell short of standards women and babies have a right to expect.

"Like many other services across the NHS and wider care sector, the service lacked enough staff to meet the needs of people using it - although University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust was recruiting to reduce these vacancies.

"We also found training targets weren’t being met, and the trust must address this to ensure people’s safety.

"However, staff were doing their best to provide good care and keep people safe, and women could access the service when they needed it.

"We found good collaboration between staff for the benefit of women and babies. They managed infection risk well and were committed to driving improvement.

"Following the inspection, we told the trust’s senior leaders where they must make improvements. They must use our report to address where the service is not meeting standards people have a right to expect.

"We continue to monitor the service and the wider trust, including through future inspections, to support it to deliver safe and effective patient care."

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