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Better maternity services at Newham University Hospitals

26 January, 2009  

The Healthcare Commission have said that Newham University NHS Trust had made substantial improvements to its maternity services, with more beds, more staff and better management of risk.

The Commission published a report detailing progress at the trust since it conducted a formal review of the services in 2007.

The review was conducted at the request of the trust, after almost 800 women were not booked for antenatal care appointments in late 2006 and early 2007, despite being referred for this service.

At that time, the Commission made six recommendations to the trust, to review the way it investigates incidents, improve the clinical leadership and management of maternity services and recruit more staff.

In March 2008 the Commission visited the trust and carried out its first review of progress. It found that much work was still required and gave the trust a further six months to address outstanding issues.

In September 2008 the Commission reviewed the trust again and found:

  • Two new matrons had been appointed, bringing the total number to four.
  • The number of midwives employed had increased from 167 to 183.
  • Two new senior midwifery posts had been created.
  • There was a heightened focus on maternity services at a senior level. This included widening the director of nursing’s title and remit to include maternity services, which has resulted in maternity services becoming more integrated into the wider trust framework.
  • Ongoing senior clinical support for obstetricians was being provided by a Professor from a neighbouring trust. This support continues.
  • New incident reporting processes had been implemented, including a weekly incident review meeting.
  • An additional ward to relieve capacity problems in the delivery suite had been created. This new ward admits women who require induction for labour and assessment and high dependency care following caesarean section.
  • Continued work and support to address staff behavioural problems had been carried out by the NHS Clinical Governance Support Team. A facilitator from that team is continuing this work on a consultancy basis and a team from South Bank University is also supporting the trust to address behavioural issues.

However, the Commission said the trust still needed to appoint a permanent clinical director and must work on ensuring its improvements to processes and governance is permanent and long-term.

Nigel Ellis, the Commission’s head of investigations said: “We’re pleased that Newham University NHS Trust has made good progress to address issues with its maternity services by increasing staff and bed numbers, employing new and better incident reporting techniques and making improving its maternity services a top priority.

“All mothers, babies and their families deserve the best quality maternity care possible.

“The trust now needs to make sure these improvements are thoroughly embedded and maternity services remain a top priority.”

On-going monitoring of the trust regarding this intervention will now be managed by Newham Primary Care Trust and NHS London.

The Healthcare Commission will continue to be updated on the trust’s progress, to ensure that the positive progress in its maternity services continues.

Healthcare Commission