The UK’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) has downgraded the rating of the maternity services at North Middlesex University Hospital from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’.
The hospital was evaluated under the CQC’s national maternity services inspection programme following an inspection in May this year.
Its overall rating remains ‘requires improvement’, which also applies to its manager, the North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.
The hospital’s maternity services had their ratings dropped in the categories of overall effectiveness, leadership and safety.
The inspection revealed a higher number of stillbirths than the national average, with no evidence of plans to address the issue.
Training gaps were identified among staff, with problems compounded by staff shortages.
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Equipment maintenance issues were also highlighted, including a lack of preparedness for emergencies with a vital baby support device.
In addition, the service was found to be facing challenges with care record documentation, leading to potential difficulties in meeting individual patient needs.
CQC deputy director of secondary and specialist healthcare Carolyn Jenkinson said: “When we inspected maternity services at North Middlesex University Hospital, we were deeply concerned to find both staff and women and people using the service being let down by poor leadership.
“Leaders lacked oversight of the issues we found, and we saw signs that a closed culture could be developing within the service, discouraging staff from speaking up to improve people’s care.”
Despite this, the CQC acknowledged that the trust had taken prompt measures to address certain issues following the inspection.
Medical director and consultant paediatrician Dr Vicky Jones said: “Since the initial feedback by inspectors in spring, we have already taken forward a substantial number of improvements, but we know we have much more to do to ensure that every person, every pregnancy, every birth and every baby gets the highest quality experience that we owe to all our local people.”