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Harrogate Hospital maternity service 'requires improvement', health regulator says


Maternity services at Harrogate District Hospital have been rated as "requiring improvement" by the health and care regulator.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found there was no clear system in place to identify risks to people in the hospital's maternity assessment area and the service's medical staffing numbers were not always sufficient.

The CQC said it had inspected Harrogate District Hospital's maternity service as part of a national programme to assess the quality of hospital maternity care.

According to the CQC report, inspectors found that compliance with appropriate safeguarding, life support training and medicines management did not meet targets, regular checks on life-saving equipment were not always completed and medical staffing numbers were not always sufficient.

The report also said that information systems were not always appropriate for the service; governance processes were not always adequate and there was limited embedded audit in the service; there was no clear system in place to identify or prioritise risks to people in the maternity assessment area and staff did not always have training on how to recognise and report abuse.

CQC deputy director of operations in the North, Sarah Dronsfield, also said staff assessed risks to those using the maternity service in most areas and "acted on them and kept good care records.”

Ms Dronsfield added that managers monitored the effectiveness of the service and made sure staff were "competent for their role."

Meanwhile, inspectors noted that staff at Harrogate District Hospital "engaged well" with those using the maternity service to plan and manage it.

Ms Dronsfield said the trust leadership team knew where improvements were needed and would continue to monitor the service to ensure its users received "the high standard of care they deserve.”

She acknowledged the trust was already working to make improvements to the issues raised and that the overall rating for Harrogate District Hospital remained "good."

Responding to the CQC inspectors' findings, chief executive of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust (HDFT), Jonathan Coulter, said, given the number of positive findings in the report, it was "difficult to understand" the rating.

He said: "We do not feel it is a fair reflection of the maternity service we provide. The report describes a maternity unit which is fully staffed, with a positive culture, with staff that are competent, who listen to women and are always seeking to improve."

He said whatever the rating, the trust's response would be to focus on "learning and improvement.”

He added: "We are proud of our team for the dedication, professionalism and caring attitude they show each day while supporting those in our care."

The trust said it recognised people might have concerns when they noted the rating.

Drector of nursing and midwifery at HDFT, Emma Nunez said: "We would ask anyone who has questions following the publication of the report to contact us, so we can discuss any concerns and provide reassurance and information to them of the quality of care provided within the unit."

The inspection was the first time maternity services at the hospital had been rated as a stand-alone service. Previously, maternity and gynaecology services were inspected and rated together.