Hospital care – does care come before the policies and procedures?

Scott Haslam Scott Haslam 21 June 2021

The Care Quality Commission has rated Sheffield’s Jessop Wing hospital “inadequate” in a critical new report, but did highlight focussed positive, caring staff.

The CQC presented its findings after an unannounced inspection of maternity services at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust hospital in March, resulting in the decision to lower the service rating from outstanding to inadequate, highlighting patient safety may be at risk.

Hospital bosses responded immediately with changes to staffing levels, assessments, further risk management protocols and the hiring of 30 new midwives.

Scott Haslam, clinical negligence director at Wake Smith Solicitors looks at the findings.

“The CQC inspection found the safety and quality of care being given to women and babies was inadequate, with a warning that soon-to-be-mums and their children could be at risk unless improvements were made.

“It showed that the Trust did not have effective systems in place to ensure that staff had the skills, competence, knowledge and experience to safely care for women and their babies. The report also highlighted that the Jessop Wing did not have effective systems in place for managing and responding to risks. As a result, the regulator was not satisfied that all mothers and babies at the unit were being cared for in line with national guidance.”

Other findings from the report showed patient safety incidents were not always managed well with delays in the investigation of incidents, and there was poor knowledge sharing with the wider team suggesting a missed opportunity to learn from these investigations.

The CQC also identified a need to implement the correct processes for investigating serious incidents and improving infection prevention and control.

The report emphasised that patient records were held on multiple systems with staff having to access them all to obtain a full overview of a patient’s notes, potentially putting them at risk.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ bosses have since assured mums that they will receive "safe, good care” with patient safety being the number one priority.

Scott added: “The report does not mean all the care provided is negligent or to a poor standard, just that the policies and procedures in place are not up to scratch or robust enough to prevent things being missed, and to enable staff to react proactively when things go wrong.

“Yet, there are also positive aspects to the report. The CQC inspection found staff at the Jessop Wing were caring and focused on the needs of the women receiving care, and that is certainly my experience of the unit. No doubt that will come as some comfort to the expectant mothers under the care of the Trust, and their families, who may now be more anxious about their care as a result of these findings.

“Fortunately, it looks as though the Trust has already started to respond to the deficiencies in care identified by the CQC. I hope that the Trust continues to follow through on its promises for the future and looks to focus on delivering safe, good care to women and their babies at a time when they are especially vulnerable.”



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