In January 2023, the Care Quality Commission carried out an unannounced focused inspection of our maternity services at the RVI as part of a wider programme of work they are doing across the country into standards of maternity care.
The team specifically looked at how safe and well-led our services were and their visit included the main delivery suite, post and ante-natal wards, assessment areas and clinics and the Newcastle Birthing Centre.
Despite the many positive findings in their report published today, maternity services have been rated as requires improvement overall. Well-led has been rated as good and safe has been rated as requires improvement. The overall rating for Royal Victoria Infirmary remains as outstanding.
There were three areas the CQC highlighted where we must take immediate action around equipment checks, staff appraisals and medicines management, all of which are being addressed, and four areas of outstanding practice were identified in the report for wider learning across the NHS which included:
- the systems we have in place for pain relieving gas scavenging,
- the regional service provided by the maternal medicine centre,
- our social media online midwifery ‘Connie E-Midwife’ service to women and birthing people in collaboration with the local MVP and
- the text feedback survey we provide to all women following anaesthetic to improve services.
The safety of women and birthing people and their children is of utmost importance and we want to reassure anyone who uses our service that they will continue to be well cared for by our maternity team.
In summary the CQC wrote:
“Staff worked well together for the benefit of women and birthing people, understood how to protect women and birthing people from abuse, and managed safety well. Staff assessed risks to women and birthing people, acted on them and kept good care records. The service managed safety incidents well and learned lessons from them.
Leaders ran services well using reliable information systems and supported staff to develop their skills. Staff understood the service’s vision and values, and how to apply them in their work. Managers monitored the effectiveness of the service and made sure staff were competent.
Staff mostly felt respected, supported and valued. They were focused on the needs of women and birthing people receiving care. Staff were clear about their roles and accountabilities.
The service engaged well with women and birthing people and the community to plan and manage services. People could access the service when they needed it and did not have to wait too long for treatment. All staff were committed to improving services continually.”
Chief Executive Dame Jackie Daniel said: “The safety of women and birthing people and their children is of utmost importance to us all and we will prioritise listening and learning to ensure we can provide the high-quality care our patients deserve.
“With such positive findings in the CQC report it is difficult to understand the resultant rating which we do not think is a fair reflection of the maternity service and dedicated care that our teams provide every day.
“The report describes how our staff work well together for the benefit of women and birthing people, how they managed safety well – focussing on the needs of those receiving care – and that everyone was committed to improving services continually.
“We are proud of our team for the dedication, professionalism and caring attitude that they show each day whilst supporting those in our care and that is reflected in other national benchmarking – for example in the CQC’s national maternity survey.
“For four consecutive years the Maternity Service has achieved all 10 of NHS Resolutions Maternity Safety Actions demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the highest standards of safety in maternity care provision.
“As a trust which also provides tertiary and quaternary (highly specialist) level care to women with complex medical conditions our neonatal and maternal outcomes are amongst the best in the country when benchmarked against peers.
“We are very disappointed with the rating applied to the service. Whatever the rating, our response will be to focus on learning and improvement as it is for any external or internal service review. The safety of women and birthing people and their children is of utmost importance to us all and we will prioritise listening and learning to ensure we can provide the high-quality care our patients deserve.
“Listening to people who use our maternity services is so important, as we completely understand that peoples’ experience can differ. This is why, in addition to our own improvement work, we work in partnership with our Newcastle Maternity Voices Partnership who provide another valuable way for us to hear the needs of those using our services.”
If you have any further queries, please speak to your midwifery team.