St Helier’s maternity unit vows to get house in order after watchdog’s damning assessment

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

A new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighting shortcomings in maternity services at St Helier Hospital has led to the hospital making a number of key changes, it says.

The busy unit had its maternity services downgraded to “Requires improvement” following a CQC assessment published last week.

When assessing whether the maternity service was safe, St Helier Hospital were downgraded to “Inadequate”.

MP Siobhain McDonagh also criticised the Wrythe Lane hospital, saying “mothers have a right to expect more”.

According to the official report, this downgrading was in part due to inadequate control over infection control and cleanliness on the ward.

The report stated: “Though most maternity service areas were visibly clean, not all areas had suitable furnishings which were well maintained, and which could be cleaned effectively.

“On the maternity ward, the induction of labour bay had peeling paintwork and damp mould on the wall. This meant there was a risk to women of developing respiratory issues.

“The visitors’ toilet had broken ceramic tiles and ingrained graffiti on the door, meaning they could not be cleaned effectively. We escalated these issues to senior managers during our inspection and they took immediate action to replace tiles and doors and close the induction of the labour bay to deal with the mould and damp.”

During the inspection last August,  the CQC found that safety checks on emergency equipment were ineffective. In one instance, inspectors found out of date and missing equipment on the neonatal resuscitation trolley, despite it being trolley had been checked daily.’

Furthermore, inspectors discovered resuscitation devices for new-borns with breathing difficulties that were past their service contract.

St Helier bosses now insist that several changes have been made since the inspection in August 2023.

These changes include investing more than £2m over two years to increase staffing levels in the unit by 8 per cent and ensuring 90 per cent of women are now triaged within 15 minutes of arrival.

They are now also new doors and blinds fitted to improve privacy and dignity, more training for staff and better record-keeping practices, while out of date equipment on the ward is being clamped down on, the hospital trust says.

A spokesman for Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Our priority is to ensure women receive the best possible care and, while this new rating is partly a reflection of our hospital’s ageing estate, we have already taken steps to improve and strengthen our maternity services – which earlier this month were rated as the best in London by mums in the CQC’s own survey.”

Pictured top: St Helier Hospital (Picture: Google Street View)


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