In April 2021, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted an unannounced focused inspection of the A&E and maternity departments at Northwick Park Hospital. The Trust’s overall CQC rating remains Requires Improvement.
However, the CQC rated the maternity service as Inadequate.
We recognise that we must make significant improvements in our maternity service, both to improve the care we offer our local communities, and to make it a better place to work. The CQC report reinforces the need to build a supportive and compassionate culture within the service. We have developed a full maternity improvement plan, and already undertaken a significant amount of work to make this cultural change, with further improvements both planned and underway.
New leaders within the service are already working closely with the wider team, and have held a number of engagement events where they have listened to further ideas about how we can improve. The leadership has set clear standards of behaviour, and has emphasised a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment. The team will also work with a external, specialist organisational development team to improve the culture, and are collaborating with the local maternity system who are providing support and guidance. New dedicated Speak Up Champions will support them to raise concerns should they need to do so.
Following the inspection, we also made a number of immediate changes to our clinical processes and systems in maternity to improve our care. This has included enhancing the support we offer to Black and Asian women, and to those who do not speak English as a first language. We recently completely refurbished the maternity department to offer those who use our service a better and more modern environment in which to give birth.
The CQC found significant improvements in our Emergency Department, but because of the focused nature of the inspection, could not re-rate it. The department’s rating therefore remains Requires Improvement.
We were particularly pleased to see the CQC acknowledge the dramatic improvements we have made to the speed with which our patients can access care. The report notes that at the time of the inspection, the department was the best performing in London for seeing patients within four hours, despite being under adverse pressure due to the pandemic.
We were also very pleased to hear that the inspectors observed a positive, open, and honest culture across the department, and that the team stated that they felt valued and supported. The report acknowledges the skills and compassion of leaders within the department, as well as a very positive approach to patient safety.
Chris Bown, Chef Executive, said: “Our staff work incredibly hard and have been at the forefront of London’s response to Covid-19, delivering extraordinary care to patients while under extreme pressure. Our focus now is on building better for the future and being open and honest about the challenges we face.
“Our A&E performance has dramatically improved in recent months, with the department now one of the best performing in London. We will use the learning from the way in which we have improved the Emergency Department to make similar changes in our maternity service.
“We are focused on creating a supportive maternity environment, where our people feel confident to raise concerns and can achieve their full potential. As a local maternity service which delivers more than 4000 babies each year, we are fully committed to offering a safe, compassionate birth environment which puts our community’s needs first.”