Homerton Hospital maternity unit given ‘Good’ CQC rating after ‘tireless work’ to improve service

Homerton Hospital.

Homerton Hospital. - Credit: Archant

Homerton Hospital’s maternity service has been rated “Good” by health inspectors – after years in the spotlight due to a string of deaths.

Specialists from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) watchdog found the maternity division delivered excellent safeguarding practices and support for vulnerable women.

The rating follows a raft of measures made by the senior maternity service staff following the two previous inspections in 2015, which found it required improvement in the wake of five patient deaths and 51 stillbirths.

Seven babies also died in the first 18 days of 2016, sparking more concerns about the unit.

But when visiting in April, inspectors found staff were knowledgeable and supported “at risk” women with social or mental health issues and that there was an open culture of reporting incidents and learning from them.

There was a strong sense of team work, they found, and the women under the service’s care were happy and praised staff.

Inspectors spoke to 42 workers and 16 women who had used the services.

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Midwifery chief Shirley Peterson said: “The maternity team has worked tirelessly to improve the care and service they provide. The move in rating is a reflection of this fantastic work. I am incredibly proud!”

Dr Mark Rickets, chair of City and Hackney CCG, added: “The report represents a huge amount of work by Homerton maternity staff.

“We congratulate all involved for such fantastic results which show improvements year on year across many of their services, particularly maternity and medical care.”

The maternity service was, however, given a “requires improvement” grade in the “well-led” category because procedures did not provide sufficient assurances that senior staff had an overview of all performance and safety issues.

Mandatory training completion was also below the 90 per cent target and there was varying understanding of the World Health Organisation safety checklist, while record keeping was “inconsistent”. There was also inconsistent hand hygiene from staff in the service.

The trust has come up with a new action plan to tackle these areas for improvement.

In 2017/18 it cared for 5,588 women. There were 24 stillbirths, and a further 16 babies died within the first 28 days of life.