Calls to improve maternity care at Westmorland and Royal Lancaster hospitals

Maternity services in parts of Cumbria and Lancashire need to improve, a regulator has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out unannounced inspections at Furness General Hospital, Helme Chase Unit at Westmorland General Hospital and Royal Lancaster Hospital.

It identified three major concerns - one at all three and two at Furness.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said it had already made improvements.

The CQC said it made the visits following concerns raised with it about the provision of maternity care at the trust.

They included the findings of the coroner at the inquest into the death of Joshua Titcombe, who died nine days after his birth at Furness General Hospital in October 2008.

'Right direction'

The three major concerns raised were the outdated care environment and poor arrangements for people to access facilities at Furness General Hospital, in Barrow.

Also at Barrow, staffing in operating theatres was not adequate to cover out-of-hours.

The concern for all three sites was about the trust reacting to events rather than promoting a preventative or proactive culture and that there was not a joined-up approach to working together, the report said.

There were moderate concerns about respecting and involving people, hygiene and infection control and record-keeping.

CQC North West regional director Sue McMillan, said: "Although many of the women we spoke to were positive about the care they received, our inspectors found that the trust needed to do more to ensure that women and babies receive safe care."

The trust said it had already taken action to address the out-of-hours emergency team and theatre staffing and some of the areas of moderate concern.

Director of nursing and modernisation Jackie Holt said there had been improvements since the 2008 case.

She said: "Although this report does highlight areas in which we need to improve, it is also important to acknowledge the many areas that show we are moving in the right direction.

"However, we are by no means complacent and these improvements are the next step in our journey to improve the quality of care."

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