Hospital vows to improve after maternity unit inspection finds Blackpool mums put at risk

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Action is already being taken to improve maternity services at Blackpool Victoria Hospital after watchdogs found women were being put at risk in the department.

An inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was carried out in June after reports the service was suffering from low staffing levels.

A report published on September 1 has rated the overall maternity department as 'requires improvement'. It had previously been rated 'good'.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ann Ford, CQC, director of CQC's North Network, said: "We weren’t assured that women and babies were receiving safe care and treatment."

Blackpool Victoria HospitalBlackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital

She added: "It was concerning that there wasn’t always enough midwifery staff to care for women and keep them safe.

"This was a significant risk to women receiving timely and appropriate care and treatment, exposing them to the risk of harm.

"We found that some women were waiting for prolonged periods of for induction of labour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There was no discussion as to how to reduce the potential risks associated with delayed inductions or how the service was risk assessing women and their babies while they were waiting."

Trish Armstrong-ChildTrish Armstrong-Child
Trish Armstrong-Child
Read More
Blackpool Victoria Hospital has 'insufficient numbers' of medical staff as repor...

In relation to the five key areas of the inspection, the maternity unit is now rated 'requires improvement' for being effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led. Safe has dropped from 'good' to 'inadequate' and caring remains rated as 'good.'

A meeting of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH) NHS Foundation Trust board of directors on September 1, heard an improvement plan had already been submitted to the CQC .

The main challenge was to recruit more midwives at a time when there is a national shortage of 3,500 midwives.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

BTH chief executive Trish Armstrong-Child told the meeting: "Our staff are putting their hands up and saying we are really challenged, we can't go on as we are."

She said staff did get good feedback from women in the maternity unit, but admitted: "In terms of inductions of labour, where ladies are waiting excessive hours to go down to deliver, that's a poor experience.

"It may be a good outcome, but the experience is poor."

Peter Murphy, director of nursing at BTH, said the CQC had indicated the improvement plan put forward was 'robust'.

He said outcomes for expectant mums in the unit were either "as expected or better than expected".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added: "There are a lot of important notices the CQC has given us to say there are things we need to improve on, which in some respects you could regard as near misses."

In a statement released by the hospital, Ms Armstrong-Child said: "The safety of mothers and their children is very important to all of us and we want to make sure that there is strong evidence of this as they continue to use our services over the coming weeks, months and years.

"While we are disappointed to see our overall rating of maternity services change, I am pleased that we have retained ‘good’ for caring and had areas of outstanding practice highlighted in the report.

"We will continue to work hard to make sure women remain confident and feel safe when giving birth at Blackpool Victoria Hospital."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Other improvements include appointment of a new director of midwifery who is due to arrive in October, while the Trust is now part of the national Maternity Safety Support Programme.

Ms Armstrong-Child added: “We can also announce today that our Trust is now part of the national Maternity Safety Support Programme which involves access to valuable support and guidance from senior clinical leaders regarding improvements we can make to our maternity services.

"We welcome this support which will come in the form of visits, mentoring, leadership development and the allocation of Maternity Improvement Advisors.

“I would like to thank our maternity colleagues for the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices they have made over the last two years.”Our colleagues have gone over and above in caring for our patients, which was reflected in the report, and we can be incredibly proud of the many achievements made during this time.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Inspectors rated the service 'requires improvement' for the following reasons:

Staff did not always provide effective care and treatment.Staff did not adequately support women to breastfeed.The service did not always have the facilities to respect women's privacy and dignity.Staff did not always help women understand their conditions or take account of their individual needs. People could not always access the service when they needed it and did have to wait too long for treatment.Leaders had the systems for effective governance processes but not all risks were reportedThere were insufficient processes in place to assess the risk of and prevent and control the spread of infectionsThe service did not always manage safety incidents well and lessons learned were not always shared.


Staff understood how to protect women from abuseThe service had enough medical staff to provide care and treatmentWhen things went wrong, staff apologised and gave patients honest information and suitable supportStaff gave women enough to eat and drink and gave them pain relief when they needed itStaff worked well together for the benefit of women, advised them on how to lead healthier lives and key services were available seven days a weekThe service planned care to meet the needs of local people and made it easy for people to give feedbackMidwifery staff supported women to make decisions about their care and had access to relevant informationStaff were focused on the needs of patients receiving care. All staff were committed to continually learning and improving services.