Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Women 'put at risk of harm' at Yorkshire NHS trust says damning report

One of the largest NHS hospital trusts in the country has been told to make “significant improvements” following a surprise inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) made unannounced visits last autumn to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after concerns were raised about the quality and safety of services.

Trust bosses have said they were “devastated” by the findings, vowed to make changes, and said 500 more nurses have now been recruited.

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Inspectors looked at urgent and emergency care at the Northern General, medicine and surgery at the Royal Hallamshire, and maternity services in the Jessop Wing in October, with follow-ups in November.

The Jessop Wing maternity unit, which is run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

As a result, the trust’s overall rating was downgraded from good to requires improvement.

Maternity services at the Jessop Wing had not changed since the CQC’s last inspection in March 2021 and remains rated as inadequate overall.

The report’s publication came days after the damning Ockenden Review into maternity services in Shropshire, which found that more than 200 babies’ deaths could have been avoided.

Ann Ford, CQC’s deputy chief inspector for the North, said: “I recognise the enormous pressure NHS services are under across the country, especially in urgent and emergency care; however, it’s vital that senior leaders are visible and have good oversight to manage and mitigate risks to ensure patients receive high-quality and safe care.

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“It was concerning that the leadership team didn’t always have oversight and weren’t always managing the risks effectively.It was most disappointing that several areas which we have identified in the last 12 months as needing urgent improvement had still not been fully addressed.

“Our inspectors found deterioration, as well as safety concerns in maternity. Staffing issues and delays in induction of labour were putting women at risk of harm.

“There had been a lack of timeliness in addressing some of the concerns identified at our previous inspection.”

Ms Ford said it was concerning that some trust staff were demoralised and some had stopped reporting incidents, and if they did, the response was slow.

She added: “Senior leaders must do more to support staff and create a no-blame culture of reporting, learning and continuous improvement as well as a culture of openness and transparency. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The CQC did find that staff controlled infection risks well and treated patients with compassion and kindness.

Trust chief executive Kirsten Major said she will do everything she can to support staff to make the necessary improvements.

She said: “We are all devastated with the outcome of the inspection because there is not one person within the trust who does not want to do the right thing for our patients and has not worked hard to try and deliver that in exceptional circumstances.

“That is why we are taking it extremely seriously and I will be doing everything in my power to support our staff and make the improvements we need to deliver.

“We have already taken action that will help us improve, including recruiting over 500 new nurses who are now working on the wards, and there have been changes to our maternity services including investing in more midwives.”

She said the process for reporting incidents at work will be simplified.

She added: “Everyone in the trust has given their all during the past two years to manage the demands of the pandemic and we are determined to address the issues raised in this report with the same commitment.”