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Failing maternity unit is improving at Walsall Manor - inspectors

By Charlotte Callear | Walsall | Health | Published:

Under-fire maternity services at Walsall Manor Hospital have improved – but there is still more work to do, according to inspectors.

Walsall Manor Hospital

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has given the unit a ‘requires improvement’ rating following three unnanounced visits in June.

It had previously been rated as ‘inadequate’ in June last year after concerns were raised over staffing levels and monitoring of cardiotocography – fetal heartbeats.

In a report published yesterday, inspectors praised staff for being ‘caring and supportive’ and said the Transitional Care Unit, which provides extra care for newborn babies, was an example of ‘outstanding practice’.

Inspectors said: “Staff were motivated and engaged with driving improvement for the service. Senior staff were now actively accepting and addressing the problems identified.

“There had been a significant shift in the attitude of consultants who were reacting well to the changes required.

“Consultants told us the senior leadership team understood the pressures of the department and described them as very supportive.

"Leaders monitored improvements via a robust maternity improvement plan, which everyone understood.

“Without exception we observed all staff interactions with patients were caring and supportive.

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"Maternity staff confirmed that the department was a calmer, more supportive environment.”

"Some cultural issues remained an issue with some pockets of staff and reports of staff undermining other staff.

"There had not been any recent infant abduction drills conducted.

"The service did not effectively address the findings from audits to demonstrate effective management of infection control risks.

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"Overall, the incident reporting process had improved however further improvement was still required as staff told us feedback from incident investigations was not always shared with staff and action plans were not always circulated to all appropriate staff."

The report highlighted some areas of poor practice, including managing infection control risks, and an absence of infant abduction drills.

Richard Beeken, chief executive at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “Our staff should be really proud of themselves for the way they have responded to last year’s disappointing rating and given the CQC greater confidence in our maternity services.

“We’re realistic about the work that we still need to do but this report shows we are making significant progress.”

Nicola Wenlock, Divisional Director of Midwifery, Gynaecology and Sexual Health, said: “Last year's rating was very disappointing for both those working in maternity services and the women accessing our care.

“We were determined to turn things around and reassure women and their families that they could depend on us for the safe, high quality care they deserve and expect.

"I would personally like to thank staff for everything they have done to achieve this fantastic improvement. Here’s to maternity services continuing to improve.”

Charlotte Callear

By Charlotte Callear
@CCallear_Star

Reporter based at the Express & Star's Wolverhampton head office

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