Conquest maternity branded ‘inadequate’ - with ‘risks’ to mums and babies

Eastbourne DGH exterior
Eastbourne DGH exterior

Maternity services at the Conquest Hospital have been branded ‘inadequate’ in the CQC report released today.

The trust moved the consultant-led services over to Hastings, sparking fury from Eastbourne mums and Save the DGH campaigners who firmly believed they should be kept at both hospitals.

Maternity services provided at the Conquest Hospital, overall, were inadequate

Trust bosses said the move would improve safety – both for Hastings mums and for Eastbourne mums who chose to have their babies in the consultant-led unit rather than the maternity unit in Eastbourne.

However, CQC inspectors have revealed this morning (Friday, March 27) that, “There were risks to women and their babies from a poorly managed service that had significant challenges with capacity.”

The report added, “The maternity services provided at the Conquest Hospital, overall, were inadequate. Although maternity staff were, mostly, caring the service was inadequate for safety, effectiveness and being well-led. Responsiveness required improvement.

“The lack of leadership capacity and high workloads meant some staff had become disengaged with the service and had high sickness levels.

“Staff worked long days without breaks and with little support; this was reflected in a high level of sickness absence that further compounded the problem.. This was particularly noticeable on the postnatal ward.

“There were significant issues about the number of staff, skills mix of staff and the communication between professionals. Due to staff shortages the birth centres were sometimes closed reducing choice for women and increasing the risk of intervention because of labour in unfamiliar surroundings.

“Midwives were caring for high risk women in an environment with which the staff were often unfamiliar (not routinely working in this service); and with a team they did not know well; this could impact on patient safety.”

The report also criticised security in the unit - and said mums and babies were at risk from breaches in the security arrangements.

And mums told inspectors they were left alone ‘for hours when scared and in pain’.