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CQC calls for further improvements to maternity services at Darlington Memorial Hospital

1 December 2016
Darlington Memorial Hospital
  • Media,
  • Hospitals

The Care Quality Commission has told County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust that it must make further improvements to ensure the continued safety of mothers and babies using their maternity services.

CQC carried out an unannounced, focussed inspection at Darlington Memorial Hospital in response to reviews initiated by the trust to look into serious incidents and concerns around the culture within maternity services.

During an unannounced inspection between 7-9 September this year, a team of inspectors looked specifically at how safe and well-led maternity services were at the trust.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said:

“Overall, maternity services at Darlington Memorial Hospital are safe and well led. We found that staff knew how to report incidents, and there is evidence that they are investigated appropriately.

I note that there is a newly formed senior leadership team in maternity. We found that this team was cohesive and that there was a real drive to improve the quality of the service.

However, there continued to be issues relating to the culture in certain areas – particularly among the medical team. We found that some of the doctors were not working as well with the rest of the team. Although there was no evidence to suggest that individual clinicians were not caring for women, clinical engagement and support was not always effective.

I know that the trust has carried out its own investigations and is continuing to work with the relevant staff to resolve those current concerns, but any significant change in culture may take some time to embed.”

The report identifies a number of other areas where improvements must be made:

  • The hospital must ensure that senior management continue to take action to address poor behaviours and performance that are inconsistent with the trust’s vision and values.
  • Recent improvements to the governance framework must be fully embedded to support the delivery of high quality care, including assessment, approval and compliance with guidelines.
  • There must be improved compliance with the World Health Organisation surgical safety checklist.

The report is based on a combination of inspection findings, and information provided by the trust which we analysed during and after the inspection. Inspectors also spoke with midwives, medical staff and senior managers in maternity services and the executive team. CQC also spoke with women who used the service to contribute to these findings.


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of acute and community services a population of approximately 600,000 people across County Durham, Darlington, North Yorkshire, the Tees Valley and South Tyneside.

This report follows a focused inspection on the quality of services provided at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. Inspection teams include a range of clinical and other experts including experts by experience.

In September 2015, following a comprehensive inspection, England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals rated the trust as Requires Improvement overall.

Whenever CQC inspects it will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led? Find out more about CQC’s approach to inspection.

Registered providers of health and social care services are required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.