The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a report, dated 20thAugust 2014, detailing the findings of their inspection into the quality of care provided to patients in Northwick Park Hospital. The report concludes that the maternity and family planning services require improvement.

The CQC are an independent regulator of health and adult social care services in England. They undertake inspections around the country of hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries, and thereafter produce a public record of their findings.

A comprehensive inspection of Northwick Park Hospital, which falls within North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, was prompted by concerns that this particular Trust presented a potentially high risk to patients.

Northwick Park Hospital is known to have had problems in the past, particularly in relation to maternity services, and although this recent report, encouragingly, has identified some areas of improvement, the findings suggest there is still some way to go before the women and babies accessing this service receive an appropriate standard of care.

From the report we learn that the labour ward and deliveries accounted for over a quarter (26.2%) of the serious incidents in the Trust. These include:

  • Four maternal deaths in past two years;
  • Four unexpected infant deaths in 2014; and
  • One never event (a serious, largely preventable patient safety incident that should not occur).

Other findings of note:

  • The service has twice the national rate of early onset Group B streptococcal septicaemia in newborns, with 17 instances between October 2013 and March 2014;
  • Staff in the antenatal clinic and gynaecology department had the lowest completion rate of mandatory training;
  • The Trust had high emergency caesarean section, forceps and ventouse delivery rates compared with national levels;
  • Caring services were found to be inadequate and behaviour and attitude of midwives was found to fall below expectations; and
  • There was a failure to respond to complaints within the target time.

A full copy of the report can be accessed here.

Whilst the improvements made within the maternity and family planning services cannot be overlooked, it is clear from this report that there is significant scope for further progress. It is imperative that the “lack of pace” in collaborative action between the service’s obstetricians and midwives, as identified in the report, is overcome, and expeditious steps are taken to promote change and secure the safety of the women and babies using this service, now and in the future.