The watchdog for hospitals and care homes flagged up a need for more midwives after an unannounced visit to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
The inspectors headed straight for the maternity units, the principle focus of the two-day visit.
Chris Adcock, acting chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH), which runs both hospitals, shared details of the inspection in his weekly newsletter to staff.
Mr Adcock said: “They were assessing our compliance in relation to eight of the essential standards relating to quality and safety of care including
- respecting and involving people who use our services
- meeting nutritional needs
- cleanliness and infection control
- management of medicines
“We will receive our formal report within two weeks.
“However, I am very pleased to say that their informal verbal feedback was very positive.
“They said they witnessed good standards of care and that the vast majority of the staff they spoke to felt valued and proud to work at BSUH and understood the direction of travel.
“They also made special mention of our head of midwifery Helen O’Dell, particularly praising the personal commitment and leadership she has brought to BSUH.
“We were found to be compliant with all of the standards assessed except our midwife-to-mum ratio.
“This is the number of midwives we employ to the number of babies we deliver in our unit.
“In response to increasing and fluctuating demand on our maternity service Helen and her team work flexibly to ensure that each shift has enough midwives on duty and in September funding was approved to recruit 15 more midwives.
“Eight have already been appointed and will start in two weeks and the rest will be in post by April.
“The CQC did go beyond maternity into a number of other areas at both hospitals and again, overall, they were very positive about what they saw.
“They did though highlight a small number of issues which require close and immediate attention and we will of course be rigorously focusing on these straight away.
Mr Adcock added: “At the beginning of July I highlighted our best quarter ever on infection control with no hospital-acquired MRSA bloodstream infections.
“I did, however, also say that this type of improvement can only be sustained through relentless focus.
“Unfortunately, since then, we have reported three MRSA bloodstream infections, which is exceptionally disappointing.
“We perform a detailed root cause analysis (RCA) for all reportable infections ‘acquired’ in our hospitals.
“Of the three MRSA cases we have now reported the RCAs suggested one was a patient who already had an MRSA infection when she came into hospital, one was a contaminated test, so the patient never had MRSA and was discharged fit and well, and the third was a patient whose condition was so complex that an MRSA infection was ultimately unavoidable.
“We can never be complacent about infection prevention and control because the damage caused by even the most momentary lapses in our focus on doing the right thing and not doing the wrong thing is irreversible.”
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