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Liverpool Women’s Foundation Trust

Regulator to investigate women's hospital trust over staffing concerns

Monitor has launched an investigation into Liverpool Women’s Foundation Trust, following concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission about “inadequate” staffing levels and the trust’s systems for monitoring service quality.

Frances Shattock, regional director at Monitor, said the investigation would assess whether the issues flagged by the CQC were “symptomatic of wider problems with how the trust is being run”. The investigation will also look at the trust’s financial position.

“We are responding positively and proactively to the findings of the CQC in the interests of women, babies and their families”

Kathryn Thomson

The CQC conducted an unannounced inspection of Liverpool Women’s in April, the findings from which were published in a report last week.

It found that while there had been an improvement in staffing levels compared to the trust’s last inspection in July 2013, one to one care during childbirth was only being provided in 77% of cases when all women should receive this level of care.

According to the CQC, staff shortages had resulted in a quarter of women on the midwife-led unit who requested an epidural being declined, even though some of these women had stated in their birth plans that epidural was their pain relief method of choice.

The CQC said the trust’s documents on risk management for staff “were ambiguous and unclear” and its risk registers “demonstrated an inconsistency in risk ratings and lack of focused management of risks”.

Commenting on the CQC’s findings, trust chief executive Kathryn Thomson said: “I am fully confident that patients are safe in the care of Liverpool Women’s.”

She said maternity staffing levels were “better than average for maternity units across the UK” based on figures from the National Audit Office.

Ms Thomson said the trust was working to “streamline and simplify” its risk systems and processes and had secured the input of a “leading risk expert” who was working to achieve this.

She added: “We are responding positively and proactively to the findings of the CQC in the interests of women, babies and their families.”

Liverpool Women’s is one of two trusts in the country that specialises in providing healthcare for women and their babies.

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