• Newham University Hospital’s maternity service re-rated “requires improvement”
  • Had been rated “inadequate” after September and October 2018 inspection
  • Part of Barts Health Trust, which was taken out of quality special measures earlier this year

A London hospital’s maternity service has improved enough to shed its “inadequate” rating, after serious concerns were raised about it at an inspection late last year.

The maternity service at Newham University Hospital, part of Barts Health Trust, was re-rated to “requires improvement” overall after an unannounced Care Quality Commission inspection in January.

It had been lowered to “inadequate” overall after a September and October 2018 inspection. Both the safe and well-led categories were rated “inadequate”. A warning notice was also issued, and the CQC noted staff sought out inspectors to complain of “cliques, favouritism and passive bullying, and a perception of unwillingness to listen to staff concerns and investigate them properly”.

The improved rating from CQC inspectors reflected “the fact that audits were showing improvement as a result of recent changes”. But the inspectors also said “it was too early to judge sustainability and longer-term impact”.

In particular, the CQC recognised changes of management had improved leadership at the unit. Inspectors praised the contribution of the acting head of midwifery at the hospital for showing “outstanding energy and leadership”. The trust-wide midwifery director, Gloria Rowland, had been moved into the post to manage improvement work.

But the CQC still has some safety concerns. The inspectors highlighted “significant risks” attached to locum consultants working on-call for 24 hours covering the labour and gynaecology wards over Christmas. They were brought in as cover as several of the trust’s consultants had taken leave in the run up to Christmas and immediately after.

Tony Halton, managing director of Newham, said: “The maternity team responded magnificently to the challenge of receiving a warning notice and have turned things round in a very short time.”

The CQC also released the results of its December inspection of maternity and end of life care at Barts’ Royal London Hospital site. Both services were marked as “good”, up from “requires improvement”, increasing the hospital’s overall rating to “good”.

Barts Health Trust was taken out of quality special measures in February, having spent four years in the regime.