The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) latest assessment of Watford General Hospital’s maternity services found that the ward ‘requires improvement’.
The CQC released the findings of its latest assessment of the hospital’s maternity unit last month, concluding that there were not enough staff to “care for the women in the delivery environment” and that the premises were not always visibly clean.
The maternity ward was previously rated ‘good’ by the CQC, and the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General, said a national shortage of midwives and the age of the building where maternity services are based contributed to the drop in rating.
Chief nurse, Tracey Carter, said: “We are disappointed by the drop in the rating, but we take heart from the CQC’s report which praises our safety culture and the passion that our team clearly has to provide great care.
“We were also pleased to see that the support our maternity staff give each other has been noted.
“The consequences of the pandemic have added to our staffing challenge as many maternity staff have had time off to isolate or because they have been unwell.
“So, for the sake of safety, we have had to withdraw our home birthing service at times and temporarily close our low-risk birthing unit so that we can concentrate our midwifery skills on our delivery suite.”
The CQC inspection was carried out in October, and the trust said that 17 new midwives joined the team between November and December 2021.
The trust also explained that the inspection took place following the retirement of the trust’s previous director of midwifery and having this post vacant contributed to the drop in rating.
The trust expects to announce a new postholder early in the New Year.