Jessop Wing: Sheffield maternity ward on road to recovery following two damning 'Inadequate' reports of 2022
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It has been a difficult year for the Jessop Wing at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. When the healthcare watchdog rated the Trust ‘Requires Improvement’ following a visit in October 2021, they also branded the maternity unit ‘Inadequate’ over safety failings and ordered them to improve.
But things did not improve – in fact, in a subsequent visit in April 2022, a damning follow up report said conditions had “deteriorated” in those six months, with staffing levels, training and waiting times causing serious concern. One woman said “basic dignity and care have gone out the window” and inspectors heard how another woman had been left naked holding her baby in a dirty bed.
Medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell issued a statement saying they found the findings “extremely worrying”, and a number of cases were heard at the coroner’s court in which failings at Jessop Wing were linked to the deaths of infants. Of note were the deaths of Barney Bear Hutton in June 2021, who could have been saved if staff had taken warnings signs more seriously, and twins Harry and Henry Jackson, who also died in June 2021.
Now, in the hospital’s latest CQC report, Jessop Wing – as well as the Trust as a whole – has been cleared of any ‘Inadequate’ ratings, meaning the maternity service may be on its way back to being one Sheffield can be proud of.
In a complimentary if still cautious report, inspectors said “clear improvement” could be seen in emergency obstetrics, cleanliness, measures for spotting safeguarding failures, staffing levels. It also detailed a successful ‘baby abduction drill’ to test safeguarding skills.
The report reads: “Staff understood how to protect women from abuse and the service worked well with other agencies to do so. The service had enough maternity staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep women safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment…The service had enough medical staff.
“The medical staff in post had the right qualifications, skills, and experience to keep women and babies safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment.”
Of note, Jessops’ ‘caring’ services were rate ‘Good’ overall, with inspectors noting staff treated women “with compassion, and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity, and took account of their individual needs”.
A culture of ‘respecting and supporting’ staff was also noted and complimented on.
There are still blemishes, however. Compliance with training was still spotty in places, and more work has been ordered to reduce delays.
Women could not always access key services when they needed it, the report found, and a list of areas that need to be improved urgently were still noted.
In a statement last week, Chief Executive Kirsten Major said there would be “no complacency” despite the improvements, and paid tribute to all 18,500 staff across the Trust who had worked hard to raise the grade.