University Hospitals Birmingham maternity services “inadequate” and “require improvement”

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (“UHB”) have been informed by the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) that their maternity services at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital are “inadequate” and at Good Hope Hospital they “require improvement”.

As a result of the drop in the standard of care provision, the CQC have issued UHB with a warning notice in the hope that they will focus on “rapidly making the necessary improvements”.The CQC visited maternity services at UHB in February 2023 and the report published today advises of several areas of failing by each hospital which has led to their ratings to be downgraded.

Heartlands Hospital

The rating for maternity services at Heartlands has been downgraded to “inadequate”. A number of concerns were raised which highlighted that the safety of women and birthing people and babies was being put at risk. Concerns highlighted by Inspectors included:-

  • Women and birthing people were not always assessed and reviewed in a timely manner in the Pregnancy Assessment Emergency Room.
  • The service did not have enough staff to care for women and keep them safe.
  • Managers did not always investigate incidents thoroughly or in a timely way.
  • Not all staff had the required training to provide lifesaving treatment to women and babies in their care.
  • The service did not manage infection risk well.
  • Women and birthing people were at risk of harm… staff did not identify or act quickly when women and birthing people were at a risk of deterioration.
  • Women or birthing people were at risk of not having their needs reviewed in a timely manner and this could place them and their unborn babies at risk of harm. Staff did not always act in a timely manner when risk identified the need for a CTG.

Good Hope Hospital

Having previously been rated as good, it has been reduced to “requires improvement” further to the inspection by the CQC. Concerns highlighted include:-

  • The service did not have enough staff to care for women and keep them safe. Staffing levels did not always match the planned numbers putting the safety of women and birthing people and babies at risk.
  • The service provided mandatory and maternity specific training in key skills to all staff but did not always ensure everyone had completed it.

Carolyn Jenkinson, Deputy Director of Secondary and Specialist Healthcare for the CQC, said: “When we inspected maternity services, it was concerning to see a deterioration in the standard of care being delivered. We saw areas where significant and urgent improvements are needed to ensure safe care is provided to women, people using this service, and their babies.  “At both maternity services, leaders need to mitigate the negative impact of understaffing. Frequent staff shortages meant people didn’t always receive timely treatment which could place them and their babies at risk…Over the past year the trust reported examples where women and people using the service had experienced a delay in their care and treatment. This needs to be addressed to ensure timely treatment is given to prevent any harm or risk to people and their babies.”The recategorisation by the CQC comes shortly after the Bewick Review into the troubled Hospital Trust as a whole was published. This report focused on clinical safety, governance, leadership, staff welfare and culture. The report made 17 recommendations and highlighted a “toxic atmosphere and bullying at all levels of management”.Siobhan Genever, Director within the Clinical Negligence team has reflected upon the recent findings, “To hear of another hospital trust failing in their maternity provision is sadly not surprising. We are pursuing many claims relating to poor maternity care across the country and the failings highlighted by the CQC are only too familiar. One can only hope that the Trust will take on board the CQC findings and improve the care provision as a matter of urgency”.

Our clinical negligence team has a wealth of experience in dealing with the effects of poor maternity care, birth injuries to mother and baby and stillbirth. If you think that you, or a loved one, may have been affected by negligent medical care during pregnancy or birth whilst under the care of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust or elsewhere, you are welcome to contact our team to discuss how we can help and support you:-


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