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Maternity services in the spotlight at Health Scrutiny Committee

08 June 2021

Pregnant woman

Dr Keith Girling (Medical Director), Carol Drummond (Interim Director of Midwifery) and Michelle Rhodes (Chief Nurse) at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust gave a progress report on their maternity services to the County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee today.

In October 2020, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook a review of maternity services at Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) and in December 2020 published their report in which they re-rated NUH from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Inadequate’ – along with regulatory notices requiring the Trust to take immediate actions to make the service safe for mothers and babies.

This topic was last on the agenda of the Health Scrutiny Committee on 9 March 2021 when Members heard that the Trust accepted there was evidence of longstanding concerns about maternity services and it had taken a range of actions to improve oversight of maternity services even before the ‘Inadequate’ rating had been issued, given the Prevention of Further Deaths Report issued in September 2020. In addition, the Trust’s Improvement Plan has the ambition to move to a ‘Good’ rating by the end of 2021.

Dr Girling, Carol Drummond and Michelle Rhodes attended today to update the committee on their action plan, which included a range of measures such as:

  • recruitment of additional midwives including a substantive Director of Midwifery due to start in post on the 21st June
  • daily escalation meetings to ensure staffing safe for the women needing care
  • additional training on fetal heart rate monitoring (approx. 500 staff) progressing well with expected completion by end of May
  • purchase of 51 new fetal heart rate monitors, which are being rolled out into clinical areas as they are configured and training is complete.
  • new IT devices being deployed across the service with improvement in community WiFi, to be supported by newly appointed digital midwives.

Councillor Sue Saddington, Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “I am grateful to the representatives from NUH for coming to update us today, but what I’ve heard and read does give me some cause for concern. I feel that the report we have seen today is not detailed enough and I would like to see much more at our meeting in October, such as the level of training the new midwives have, what type of incidents have taken place, details about after care. We need to make sure that ladies and their babies are safe.”

Dr Keith Girling, Medical Director at NUH, said: “This is all about women and all about babies and making this service right for them. I’m pleased to report we have made a number of appointments into midwifery – 39 since September last year. We are still working with other local providers at recruitment opportunities to fill the remaining gaps. We have been working to hear the voices of women throughout this process and have much better links with mothers about their experiences.

“We have had some progress since our last time in March; the CQC revisited us a few weeks ago and have removed the section 29 improvement notice on the basis of the improvements they have seen. We’re very mindful that there’s still much that needs to be done and that this is not something that’s going to be quick to fix. We are now looking at a transformational programme to create a culture that is safe for women, safe for babies and safe for staff.”

NUH will report back to Health Scrutiny Committee in October (date to be confirmed). In the meantime, NUH representatives have invited Committee members to visit maternity units at their Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital Campuses.

ENDS

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