Maternity services at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury rated ‘inadequate’

Pam Mills

A RECENT report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated maternity services at Tunbridge Wells Hospital as ‘inadequate’.

The rating follows a short notice inspection at the hospital which focused on patient safety and wellbeing.

The hospital at Pembury provides maternity services for a population of 500,000 and was last inspected under the maternity and gynaecology framework, in 2015.

This is the first time that the maternity services have been assessed on their own.

The healthcare watchdog raised significant concerns in a report published on February 16, highlighting a range of issues including insufficient training, excessive patient bleeding and poor levels of cleanliness.

Inspectors also raised concerns about the use of emergency C-sections, with some reports of avoidably long and complicated births.

In an internal email from December 2021 seen by the Times, maternity staff were updated on the inspection results, with management outlining the specific issues outlined in the report: “We know this is going to be very disappointing for everyone, particularly after all the preparation and hard work that was undertaken ahead of the visit. While this is not the news we wanted to hear, please do not forget the compassionate and high-quality care you provide every day to the people who use our services.”

The CQC recognised staffing issues as a contributing factor to the rating, acknowledging that variable retention levels and periods of staff sickness had undermined care provision.

Limited staffing numbers also meant some staff had to miss out on vital and role-specific training in order to complete work at the hospital.

The report also highlighted the limited use of a second theatre as a major concern, especially where no obstetric theatre was available overnight and patient safety was impacted.

Responding to the report MTW Executive Miles Scott said, “MTW has a reputation for continually developing and improving care. I want to reassure people using our maternity services that we are addressing all of the issues raised by the CQC and have already implemented the majority of their recommendations.”

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