PERFORMANCE: A regional centre for spinal injuries has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission.

The regulator highlighted concerns over “significantly low” staffing levels at the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre, which is run by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust. Some care and dignity issues were also identified.

The trust was given an overall rating of “requires improvement” in the CQC inspection report. Several areas of good practice were identified, including end of life care and the community emergency response team.

Southport and Formby district general hospital

The CQC highlighted ‘significantly low’ staffing levels at the trust’s spinal injuries centre

The inspection took place in November, and the trust said a review of staffing levels at the spinal injuries unit was ongoing at the time. This has since resulted in £300,000 being invested in nine new nurses and a matron.

Trust chief executive Jonathan Parry said: “We anticipate this significant investment in nursing will address many of the issues the inspectors raised.”

The trust’s maternity and gynaecology service was also rated “inadequate”, and inspectors raised concerns over staffing mix and lack of out of hours access to the blood transfusion laboratory.

Mr Parry said: “We have a fully staffed maternity team and are addressing the skills mix, including recruiting new team members to work in maternity and gynaecology theatres.

“The trust has also asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to independently review the service.”

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards said: “It is clear that Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust has a number of issues it has to address.

“Across the trust we saw many examples that showed that staff were caring, compassionate and treated patients with dignity, even when they were working under significant pressure.   

“Staffing levels on the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre were significantly lower than national guidelines. The lack of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of the patients must be resolved.

“The inspectors found that skill levels in maternity were below those needed to provide a consistently safe service. Some staff were being used for duties above their level of competency. Too few doctors had been trained to manage emergency situations in the maternity service.”

The centre, based at Southport and Formby District General Hospital, was established shortly after the Second World War.