Nearly half of all NHS hospital maternity services covered so far by a national inspection programme have been rated as substandard, the Observer can reveal.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates health and care providers in England, began its maternity inspection programme last August after the Ockenden review into the Shropshire maternity scandal, which saw 300 babies left dead or brain damaged by inadequate NHS care.
Of the services inspected under the programme, which focuses on safety and leadership, about two-thirds have been found to have insufficient staffing, including some services that were rated as good overall. Eleven services saw their rating fall from their previous inspection.
Dr Suzanne Tyler of the Royal College of Midwives said: “Report after report has made a direct connection between staffing levels and safety, yet the midwife shortage is worsening. Midwives are desperately trying to plug the gaps – in England alone we estimate that midwives work around 100,000 extra unpaid hours a week to keep maternity services safe. This is clearly unsustainable and now is the time for the chancellor to put his hand in the Treasury pocket and give maternity services the funding that is so desperately needed.”
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Source: The Guardian, 9 July 2023