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Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells maternity services rated inadequate


A maternity service run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) has been rated inadequate by health and car regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The maternity services at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital received the lowest rating in a report and the trust's Maidstone Birthing Centre and Crowborough Birthing Centre was rated as "requires improvement."

MTW chief executive, Miles Scott, said the suggested improvements were the organisation's "highest priority."

The CQC served a warning notice to the trust to make "rapid improvements" at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

The trust said it had taken steps to address the CQC's recommendations, including by undertaking a multidisciplinary workforce review and organising additional training.

A trust spokesperson said: "While the report reflects themes and challenges facing maternity services across the country, the experience and safety of people using the trust's maternity services remains our primary focus.

"Last week the CQC published it's 2023 Maternity Survey, which identified MTW as one of just eight trusts nationally that exceeded service user expectations."

The recent report said daily safety checks of emergency and specialist equipment were not always completed at the hospital and there were concerns about the service's infection control measures as inspectors found no cleaning schedules for areas including the birthing pool.

Generally, the trust managed formal complaints well and staff focused on the needs of people using the service and cared for them with "dignity and respect", inspectors noted. 

However, at Maidstone Birthing Centre, inspectors found poor record keeping, poor governance systems and a lack of auditing.  The report said mandatory training was not always completed but staff were focused on the needs of people using their service, which had an "open culture." 

At Crowborough Birthing Centre, inspectors found midwifery staffing levels were unsafe which put mothers and babies at risk of harm. The report also said that staff also did not always complete mandatory training and records, including risk assessments.

Despite this, staff understood how to protect people from abuse and were focused on the needs of their patients.

CQC's deputy director of secondary and specialist care, Carolyn Jenkinson, said trust staff were doing their best to provide safe care "despite ineffective systems and poor leadership.”

She added that the CQC would not hesitate to take further action if further improvements were not implemented.