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Midwife shortage at Croydon hospital highlighted by regulator

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Croydon University Hospital has been ordered to take action to address shortages of midwives in its maternity unit by the Care Quality Commission.

The regulator found the number of midwives was insufficient to ensure patient safety or that their needs were met when it visited the hospital, which is run by Croydon Health Services Trust, in February.

The CQC warned that the maternity unit was not meeting six essential standards of care overall. Concerns were raised about recent maternal deaths at the unit and the trust’s ability to provide optimum care in emergency situations. Evidence was also found that one to one care on the labour ward was not always being provided.

Other findings included equipment not always being available when needed and patients potentially being treated by incompetent support staff, as there was evidence that mandatory staff training was not up to date.

The commission acknowledged that the trust was in the process of recruiting additional midwives at the time of its review.

Colin Hough, regional director of the CQC in London, said: “We will continue to monitor the trust’s progress, to make more unannounced visits if necessary, and to take any further action that we deem necessary to make sure the trust gets it right.”

“We have asked the trust to reply within 28 days of receiving CQC’s report, setting out the action they will take to improve. We will follow up to make sure that the improvements have been made.”

A trust spokeswoman said: “The issues raised (in the report) were already being addressed and have been the focus of a detailed improvement plan for the past few months.”

But Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “These issues keep cropping up again and again in reports and directly from our members across England…

“It is deeply worrying that we are seeing an increasing number of reports coming from the Care Quality Commission highlighting failings in maternity services.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I'm sure pay has nothing to do with it........

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  • I would disagree with the comment by Sara. A maternal death and shortages of staffing adds to the costs of the department. Midwives are far cheaper than the costs of having to perform a risk and supervisory enquiry, plus any compensation, and in addition the pay for those midwives who are away from work be it due to stress or other reasons. Skilled staff are not easy to come by. They need to be orientated well before they can really contribute to the midwifery team and that can be so varriable, some taking just a few days to some taking months, so that is not a quick fix either. Also, direct midwifery training does not always fully equip midwives with the skills required for the complexities of modern midwifery- we do more and more to women than we have ever done, and it goes on increasing- even for the low risk cases. Instead of being so negative to our colleagues at Croydon we should be supporting them. They will have a really robust unit once their difficulties have been addressed. The units that we should really worry about are those that are just good enough not to get onto the radar of the CQC- those are the ones to worry about.

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