Trust invests £1.6m in more midwives as inspectors raise concerns

Published on 15 October 2021

The Trust is investing £1.6 million to improve midwifery staffing levels following a thorough staffing review.

Care Quality Commission inspectors visited the maternity unit at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, Margate, and the Trust’s community midwifery teams in Canterbury and Dover in July, and raised concerns about midwifery staffing with the Trust.

The Trust Board approved the £1.6m investment at its Board meeting on 30 September.

The CQC published its latest reports into the Trust’s child health and maternity services today.

CQC report into maternity services at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital

CQC report into maternity services at the William Harvey Hospital

The overall CQC rating for the service remains ‘requires improvement’. As this was a focused inspection, no ratings were produced for safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led, and the previous ratings (good for caring, effective and responsive, requires improvement for safe and well-led) remain in place.

“We continue to work hard to support our midwives’ well-being and help them provide a safe, high-quality service for women and babies,” said Sarah Shingler, Chief Nursing Officer. “This includes a £1.6m investment to fund an additional 38 additional midwives with 26 already in post.”

Like many maternity services around the country, the Trust’s service has struggled this year with staff shortages compounded by staff absences associated with Covid-19 and high demand. Traditionally, community midwives have been drafted in to support the hospital maternity units at busy times. The situation has become extremely challenging, and so the Trust undertook a comprehensive staffing review and has temporarily reduced the number of midwifery services it offers, suspending the home birth service until staffing is in a more sustainable position.

The Trust has also improved how its community midwifery teams are supported on a daily basis, making it easier for the community teams to raise issues and communicate with the wider maternity team.

Extra temporary, qualified staff have been brought in while the Trust recruits permanent staff, some with specific responsibility for answering the telephone to women who need advice and support.

Twenty-six additional midwives have been recruited so far.