Maternity services in north Cumbria rated as ‘Good’ by the CQC

In April 2023, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an unannounced focused inspection of Maternity services across North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC). Following the inspection, Maternity services at NCIC have been rated ‘good’.

The inspection was part of a wider programme of work the CQC is carrying out across the country looking at standards in maternity care, particularly in relation to how ‘safe’ and ‘well-led’ services are. The inspection team visited Maternity units at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Penrith Birthing Unit.

In summary, the CQC said:

“Staff worked well together for the benefit of women and birthing people, understood how to protect women and birthing people from abuse, and managed safety well. The service controlled infection risk well. Staff assessed risks to women and birthing people, acted on them and kept good care records. They managed medicines well. The service managed safety incidents well and learned lessons from them. 

“Leaders ran services well using reliable information systems and supported staff to develop their skills. Staff understood the service’s vision and values, and how to apply them in their work. Managers monitored the effectiveness of the service and made sure staff were competent. Staff felt respected, supported and valued. They were focused on the needs of women and birthing people receiving care. Staff were clear about their roles and accountabilities. The service engaged well with women and birthing people and the community to plan and manage services. People could access the service when they needed it and did not have to wait too long for treatment and all staff were committed to improving services continually.”

The CQC made many positive findings and, as well as the overall rating, the ‘well-led’ rating for the service remains as ‘good’. However, they found that in terms of safety, the service now ‘requires improvement’ with some actions for the service to address. The other domains which were not inspected on this occasion (caring, responsive and effective) remain rated as ‘good’.

There were several areas the CQC highlighted where the teams are already taking action including: Medicines management; resuscitation training and staff support with professional development.

Commenting on the report, Jill Foster, Chief Nurse at NCIC said: “Maternity services across the country are under intense scrutiny following recent tragic events. Maintaining a rating of ‘good’ is a great achievement by the team and I am very proud of them.

“The safety of women and birthing people and their children is of the highest importance to us all and we welcome the fact that the CQC has highlighted some areas where we can make further improvements to make sure we deliver safe high quality care every time.

“We are already acting on those recommendations because we want learn and continually improve our services for women and birthing people in north Cumbria.

“We know we have the strong leadership in place to make those improvements, with the CQC continuing to rate our Maternity teams as ‘good’ for ‘well-led’ in Carlisle and Whitehaven and upgrading the team at Penrith to ‘good’. It is great that our leadership team were recognised for their skills and abilities as well as their role in supporting staff to develop their careers.

“I was also pleased to note that staff feel respected, supported and valued which is so important in creating an open culture and delivering excellent care.

“The importance of listening to people who use our maternity services cannot be underestimated. We have a close working relationship with our local Maternity Voices Partnership who have had input into our strategy and vision.

“We are proud of our team for the dedication, professionalism and caring attitude that they show each day which was also reflected in the results of the CQC’s national maternity survey last year when NCIC scored higher than the national average when rated by women and birthing people”

The full reports will be published on the CQC’s website on Friday 22nd September.


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