Shropshire

Maternity 'must improve' at baby-deaths hospital trust

Princess Royal Hospital sign
Image caption Overall care at the trust has improved but further work is required, the watchdog has said

Maternity services at a health trust at the centre of a baby deaths inquiry must improve, inspectors have said.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered an investigation into the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in April.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report said overall care had got better but safety in maternity services "needed further improvement".

The trust said challenges needed to be resolved and it wanted to work more closely with GPs.

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Inspectors visited the trust's Princess Royal Hospital, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and its five midwife led maternity units, in December and January to check whether improvements had been made following its previous inspection in October 2014.

They found progress had been made at the trust as a whole, but gave it a "requires improvement" rating for being safe, responsive and well-led.

The CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, Prof Ted Baker, said end-of-life care services had made "significant progress" and "a positive change in culture among staff and leaders at the trust" was noted.

But he said action was needed particularly with regard to "maintaining appropriate staffing levels in the emergency department and ensuring a strong safety and learning culture within maternity services".

'Driving force'

Seven babies died in a 20-month period between September 2014 and May 2016.

A ninth avoidable baby death was uncovered at the trust by the BBC in June.

In maternity services, the watchdog found learning from "safety incidents was not always being shared with all staff" to support improvements.

It added a lack of regular post-natal ward rounds meant "high risk" post-natal women were not regularly reviewed and on the Wrekin midwife led unit, "medicines management was also a concern".

However, the report praised "caring and compassionate staff" and rated providing effective services and caring services as "good".

Image copyright The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
Image caption The trust said the CQC recognised "a number of improvements"

The trust said it had commissioned the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to help and worked with the Virginia Mason Institute in the US to improve patient safety.

It said medical care at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital had made "significant improvement."

But it admitted failing to hit the government's target of admitting or transferring 95% of A&E patients within four hours.

Trust chief executive Simon Wright said the need to resolve challenges "is the driving force behind our plans to reconfigure hospital services and to work more closely with GPs".

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