The boss of the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said improvements have already been made since the CQC rated the organisation and its hospitals as ‘inadequate’.
Chief executive Darren Grayson said there were “very few surprises” in the report, as the Trust itself raised a number of issues to inspectors.
He also said an action plan is in place, headed up by Alice Webster, director of nursing at the Trust, but that improvements had already been made since the CQC inspection in September.
“We have been pulling together an action plan involving the frontline staff, including doctors nurses – people that work on the wards,” said Mr Grayson. “They get to create the action plan so they will own it.”
“It is developed with senior staff in the organisation, but is now an absolutely integral part of what we will do on a daily basis,” said Mrs Webster. “It will develop over time, it will change.”
Issues to be tackled in the action plan include the perception of bullying within the organisation, the storage of drugs and staffing levels.
However, Mr Grayson did not accept that maternity and surgery services were inadequate. He said the report “reflects a picture that in some ways we recognise”.
“What we do not recognise is the judgement they have come to,” he said. “We believe that our surgery and maternity service are both safe and well led. We have got evidence for that. We are extremely confident that our maternity service is not only safe, it is much safer than it was before.
He said the number of serious incidents had reduced since consultant-led maternity services were moved to the Conquest Hospital.
Mrs Webster added, “We are recruiting more midwives. We are looking at the skill mix across the area. The Eastbourne Maternity Unit is having very positive feedback.”
But the report on maternity highlighted a number of issues about the service at the Conquest. Mr Grayson said, “I think it is fair to say that we moved quickly to reconfigure the maternity service.
“The decision was made in March and the changes happened in May. I also think it is fair to say it was the right thing to do. We needed to move very quickly for safety reasons.
“But we are absolutely sure the Trust did the right thing. The outcomes for mums and babies are absolutely better than they were before. Some of the misinformation that we have seen going around of babies being born before arrival of a healthcare professional, or an increase of babies being born on the side of the road, are simply not true.”
On the future of the Trust, he said, “ We have come out of a period of three years of major change. What the Trust now needs is a period of stability and consolidation. We will not be looking at making major service changes for the foreseeable future. That’s the really strong message I am giving to staff.”