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Our initial response to the CQC inspection report for maternity services at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

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Our initial response to the CQC inspection report for maternity services at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

In March 2023, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust maternity departments were visited by the CQC (Care Quality Commission), who carried out an unannounced focused inspection at both University Hospital of North Durham and Darlington Memorial Hospital, as part of the national maternity inspection programme. The inspection was to look at how safe and well-led maternity services were.

Following the inspection, the CQC published a report on Friday 15 September 2023. Our maternity services both at University Hospital of North Durham and at Darlington Memorial Hospital have been rated as 'Inadequate'.

In their report, the CQC inspection team acknowledged the unprecedented impacts caused by the pandemic as well as the national shortage of staff as key underlying reasons for the rating. They also praised staff for their commitment and dedication to patient care in such adversity.

As well as revising the rating, the CQC issued a Section 29A Warning Notification against the Trust informing it that these services need to be improved.

The Trust has accepted the report and its findings and says significant improvements have already been made since the inspection in March.

Hear from our Chief Executive Sue Jacques responding to the CQC inspection report on maternity services in this short video.

Providing safe, compassionate and joined-up care for our patients is our priority and the CQC recognised some areas of good practice. This included the compassion, kindness and courage demonstrated by staff.

Within the report the Trust was provided with a series of improvement actions. The teams have been taking immediate action to make significant improvements to the quality and safety of care provided.

These have included:

  • Improvements to the triage process in our Pregnancy Assessment Unit (PAU). New 'red' phones have been placed in the PAUs and are for incoming calls only. If there is a clinical determination to be made from a call then this needs to be made by a midwife and must be immediately passed on to a midwife for action. The risk assessment process, to ensure timely assessment and review, has also been strengthened and supported with visual displays.
  • Waiting areas University Hospital of North Durham (UHND): space has been created for a waiting area at UHND and a nurse call buzzer) system put in place for patients whilst waiting.
  • Staffing: Some concerns were raised around planned and actual staffing, including ensuring that we can always provide two midwives for pregnancy assessment where necessary. We have shared with the CQC all the actions we are taking to recruit, train, support and retain midwives and detailed documentation of how we measure acuity (the number and the level of care required in the unit) and adjust staffing in response to it.
  • Equipment:
    • An additional resuscitaire was ordered for Darlington Memorial Hospital and 5 additional Dawes-Redman CTG machines were also ordered (3 UHND and 2 DMH).  These have all been received and are now in use.

We remain committed to giving both those using our maternity service and the CQC confidence in the quality and safety of our care.

Hear from our Head of Midwifery Joanne Crawford responding to the CQC inspection report on maternity services in this short video.

 

If you are receiving maternity care at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, or have done so in the past and you are affected by anything you have read in the published report, please get in touch with us via your midwife or our Patient Experience Team by calling 0800 783 5774 or email Cdda-tr.patientexperiencecddft@nhs.net and we will support you as much as we can.

You can also contact your local Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) if you would like to share details of your experience. Cathy Harvey is the County Durham and Darlington MVP Chair: cddmvp@gmail.com

'In recent times, I have utilised admissions to Richardson for respite direct from my fracture clinic, even at weekends. I have never worked anywhere with this efficiency before - it is reassuring and invaluable for the patient.'

Patient, Lowson / Starling Wards, Richardson Hospital