Sheffield Maternity Services rated ‘Inadequate’ by Care Quality Commission


June 9, 2021 | By Suzanne Munroe |

June 9, 2021 | By Suzanne Munroe |

Today we learn that urgent action is being taken in Sheffield maternity services after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook an unannounced visit in March, and found some significant issues with the care afforded to patients.

The Trust have said that they are taking urgent action to rectify the issues that the CQC have found as their status is downgraded from ‘Outstanding’ to ‘Inadequate’. This will come as a shock to the local people of Sheffield and the staff working within the Trust. This follows closely on from the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee Report that was shared yesterday which describes the level of burnout and stress felt by the medical profession that has been symptomatic for years, but especially highlighted as a consequence of the pandemic. The report describes burnout as, “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

Worryingly, in the CQC report of Sheffield, staff do not seem to be held as a priority, with safety concerns and lessons learned not shared when things go wrong. Patient safety must always be front and centre when it comes to delivering safe and effective care. Trusts must place that along with the safety of their staff as their paramount concern in order that babies are delivered safely, with proper support from clinicians who are themselves supported.

The report raises serious concerns about governance, leadership and the ability to enact meaningful change. This, coupled with the advent of the continuity of care model in midwifery has demonstrated that pregnant patients and their babies were not always allocated staff with the correct level of competency for the needs of the patients.

To downgrade services in such a way is quite rare and it will be devastating for the people of Sheffield and the committed and hardworking clinicians and staff the community rely upon. Jessops Wing has been a long standing centre of excellence in South Yorkshire and it will come as a disappointment to many that it seems that recommended changes suggested by the CQC as far back as 2015 have not been effectively implemented.

It has long been our concern that in order to change the way in which maternity services work, it is necessary to employ a change of culture rather than to change protocols as a nod to improving safety standards. Protocols do not change cultural problems, such as those identified by the CQC report. The Trust now have the tools from various independent reviews of the services to enact positive change for the people of South Yorkshire. It is our hope that the senior leadership take an overarching view of the services to ensure that patient safety is secured for the community the Trust serves.

If you need help or advice on any aspects of birth injuries or infant loss, we can provide the professional support that you need. We have many years’ experience of dealing with such claims and we’re happy to discuss your circumstances with you. Call us on 0800 138 0458 or contact us through the website.

Suzanne Munroe

Suzanne is a Solicitor who heads up our Medical Negligence team and is also a Director of Switalskis. She joined Switalskis in 2013 and has specialised in Medical Negligence for most of her career. Suzanne is a nationally-recognised birth injury lawyer. Suzanne's profile