Action ordered over safety concerns at Scarborough maternity unit

Scarborough Hospital
Scarborough Hospital
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Health chiefs have ordered a series of improvements to maternity services at a Yorkshire hospital amid concerns over quality and safety.

The Yorkshire Post can reveal 80 recommendations have been drawn up in an action plan to enhance care for mothers and babies at Scarborough Hospital.

Managers acted over long-standing concerns over the quality of care which intensified after a number of serious and critical incidents during 2014.

Among the recommendations around half are classed as “urgent”.

They incorporate findings from separate external and internal reviews ordered by hospital managers into services, as well as outcomes from the landmark Morecambe Bay inquiry.

Managers say a key emphasis has focused on changing the culture in the hospital’s maternity service, in particular learning from mistakes and complaints.

Around 1,600 babies are delivered each year at the hospital, which has separate consultant and midwife-led units, making it one of the smallest maternity services in the country.

Actions ordered by hospital chiefs are being scrutinised by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission who are drawing up a report into the whole range of services at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has run Scarborough Hospital since 2012.

Medical director Alastair Turnbull said progress on the action plan was being carefully monitored but he was confident in the future of maternity services in Scarborough.

The work had concluded the unit was safe and fit for purpose but there were aspects which needed strengthening to make it safer including the reporting of mistakes and other incidents and he was heartened the “culture feels to be very, very different”.

He said the reopening last month of the midwife-led unit, which was closed in 2013 pending a £1 million upgrade to the maternity operating theatre, was an endorsement of the care provided and he hoped more women would be delivered there.

He said: “At the time of the merger between York and Scarborough trusts, due diligence was carried out that brought to light a number of issues regarding the maternity service at Scarborough Hospital.

“In order to understand these issues and to be assured that the services provided are safe, we carried out an internal review of the service, involving doctors, midwives and other staff concerned. We also invited experts from outside the trust to conduct a review.

“The reviews concluded that maternity services in Scarborough are safe.”

Nevertheless he said they found changes were needed leading to the drawing up of a detailed action plan.

Alongside work to enhance facilities at the hospital, leadership and management within the maternity service has been strengthened and staff cover has been improved.

“Many of these actions have already been delivered, including improvements to the maternity theatre at Scarborough Hospital,” he said.

“This work and its outcomes are a really good example of how bringing the two organisations together can result in more consistent standards of care being delivered for our patients across North Yorkshire.”