The Care Quality Commission has dropped Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from a rating of ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ in its latest report after inspectors found lapses in patient safety and severe short staffing issues.
But most damning of all was how the Trust’s maternity services – which were already rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors last March – had reportedly “deteriorated” by the time of their visit in October and November.
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The Trust said it was “devastated” by the findings and it was investing in more midwives as part of its efforts to recruit 500 more nurses.
But medical negligence lawyers from Sheffield-based firm Irwin Mitchell have labelled the report “extremely worrying”.
Specialist lawyer Julianne Moore said: “Patient safety should be the fundamental priority in all care. The CQC’s findings, not only regarding maternity care in Sheffield but services across the wider Trust are extremely worrying.
“What’s of particular concern is that inspectors say they failed to see improvements in maternity care in the city. Sadly what’s happened in Sheffield isn’t an isolated incident. High profile failings connected to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals and concerns around services in East Kent, Nottingham, and more recently Basildon, all point to widespread and deep-rooted problems nationally.
“Sadly through our work we too often see the catastrophic consequences families are left to face following failings in maternity care. Behind each case is a human story of how families have been devastated by medical errors, many of which are often avoidable.
“While we welcome pledges to improve hospital services in Sheffield we hope that meaningful action is taken to ensure this happens.”
It comes just days after a damning report into maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals that found widespread issues dating back nearly 20 years, and highlighted action could have prevented the deaths of infants.
The independent review lead by former midwife Donna Ockenden made a series of recommendations for improving maternity services, not only in Shrewsbury and Telford but nationally.
Irwin Mitchell has represented families affected by maternity care, including deaths and birth injuries in Sheffield.