The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England, has expressed concerns about the maternity services at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and highlighted scope for improvements.
This follows the CQC’s inspection of the hospital, which is managed by the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, in June this year.
The review identified the need for improvements in these maternity services, marking the first time they had been rated as a standalone core service.
Stoke Mandeville’s maternity services were rated as ‘requiring improvement’, particularly in terms of safety, with high staff vacancy being one key issue identified.
The inspection also found that the triage area lacked confidentiality, creating privacy concerns during telephone calls and discussions.
The CQC noted delays in triage and limited access to necessary equipment and medication, while the triage area’s space limitations were also seen to pose risks.
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Additional concerns were raised over the location of a dedicated bereavement suite in a labour ward.
CQC secondary and specialist healthcare deputy director Carolyn Jenkinson said: “We were told that a quality improvement project around triage had started in February.
“Its aim was to improve the flow, ensure timely risk assessments took place, and improve the environment.
“Leaders has recently introduced a designated waiting area as part of this triage improvement plan, and we’re looking forward to returning and seeing the difference these changes might make in people’s care.”
Despite these challenges, the CQC said the service effectively managed infection risk and that its staff felt respected and supported.
It also felt that leaders handled risks well and that staff understood how to protect patients, especially women, from abuse.
The agency emphasised the need for prompt improvements and has said it will closely monitor the trust, including through future inspections, to ensure appropriate care for patients and their babies.