Hospital maternity chiefs ‘look forward’ to next inspection following inadequate rating

231
Bedford Hospital entrance

Hospital chiefs have committed themselves to keeping and improving maternity services in Bedford.

The service was rated inadequate following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) unannounced visit on 5 November which identified a risk that a baby could be abducted, among other problems.

A meeting yesterday (Monday) heard that employee trust with management had become so poor that staff made 14 whistle-blower complaints to the CQC rather than speak to bosses.

Cllr Hilde Hendrickx (Lib Dem, Newnham) asked why issues identified by the CQC in 2018 had not been acted on.

“They should have been picked up by the leadership; why didn’t that happen?” she asked at the health overview and scrutiny committee.

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive David Carter, who took up the role when Bedford and Luton and Dunstable Hospital merged in April 2020, said he “can’t speak for before April 2020”.

He said the trust had been aware of some concerns but was “reassured by good outcomes”. Pregnant mums had been happy with the service.

Looking forward he said the merger offers the chance to “help move on to a much more positive future.”

The trust has new maternity leaders in place and Mr Carter said it is committed to Bedford. It is “key to the future of us as an organisation and we want it to be outstanding”.

Trust chief nurse Liz Lees said the CQC had visited not because of any clinical incident but following “staff concerns”.

The unit had been hit hard by staff shortages which they say they are dealing with. They have regular meetings with the CQC to stay on track. They are also trying to build up trust with staff. She said that “takes time”.

Emma Hardwick has been appointed the new Director of Midwifery

Emma Hardwick, the trust’s new director of midwifery, said they have a shortlist of 35 student midwives to fill up to 15 posts.

Tara Pauley, in her third week as Bedford’s head of midwifery, said new swipe card security measures have been put in place. And “teams are very aware of the need to check and challenge” visitors.

Mr Carter said he was “disappointed” with the inadequate rating because of the unit’s relatively low child mortality rates and good feedback from mums.

“The unit was in a good place before the CQC,” he insisted, but they are using the rating as a “lever for change” and now they want to “strive for outstanding”.

Cllr Graeme Coombes (Cons, Wilshamstead) asked for assurance that the current leadership can achieve what the previous chiefs hadn’t.

Mr Carter said they would be held accountable by the CQC, the hospital’s quality committee, its own trust governors and its own focus.

Actions required in the wake of the Ockenden report into baby deaths in Shropshire also added impetus.

“The failures were because of culture and trust in leadership but our relationship with mothers is good,” he said.

“I want to look forward to the next CQC.”

Cllr Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle) said: “I am glad to hear that there is no doubt hanging over the service.”

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

Will you help sustain our work today by clicking below ? Even a small donation makes a difference for our future.

Thank you for your support.