MATERNITY services at Torbay Hospital still ‘require improvement’, according to the independent monitoring organisation the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors from the CQC carried out a short-notice inspection of the maternity services at the hospital as part of its national Maternity Inspection Programme. 

They say the hospital is still failing to provide pregnant mothers and new born babies with the expected standard of care and treatment they deserve.

It has been rated as re-rated as requires improvement for both how safe and well-led it is with concerns raised that people were being put at risk of harm, unsafe staffing levels, unborn babies’ heart rates not always being adequately checked and a need for a second theatre to carry out emergency surgery.

The inspection also highlighted that hospital leaders had lacked urgency to address issues that had already been identified. 

However, it was noted quick action has been taken since its inspection in November.

The inspection did not rate how effective, caring, and responsive the service was, which remain rated as good.

A spokesman for Torbay Hospital said: ‘Despite many positive findings in the report, the rating for maternity services at Torbay Hospital remains ‘requires improvement’ as does the overall CQC rating for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.’

The CQC report, which was published on Wednesday, 

acknowledges a number of areas of good practice and one area of outstanding practice in the provision of a freephone telephone line for women and birthing people experiencing financial difficulties. 

Inspectors also identified areas for improvement which are being addressed through a comprehensive action plan. 

Torbay Hospital says many of the areas in the action plan have already been completed including a dedicated triage telephone service and the delivery of new equipment which was on order at the time of the inspection. 

This includes equipment to help babies in emergencies and with resuscitation and equipment which monitors babies’ heart rates.

Inspectors found service leaders were visible and approachable, supported staff to develop their skills and to take on more senior roles and engaged with people and local communities to plan and manage services. 

Staff were praised for working hard to reduce health inequalities in childbearing women and birthing people experiencing social deprivation. 

This includes help and advice from the award-winning stop smoking service. They were also praised for the way they managed safeguarding, incidents, medicines and care records. 

Nicola McMinn, interim Chief Nurse at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Every member of our maternity team is dedicated to providing the best possible care for pregnant woman and birthing people and their babies.

'We are pleased that the reports reflect areas of good practice as well as highlighting those areas where we know we need to make further improvements. 

‘I am particularly proud that the CQC recognised that all our maternity service staff are committed to continually learning and improving services and that our maternity leaders encourage innovation and participation in research.

'As a midwife myself, I know how important it is that we get things right and I would like to assure people that we are listening and taking action. I would like to encourage people to continue to share their experiences of care – whether positive, negative or neutral – so that we can continue to learn and improve.

‘We are proud of our maternity teams for the compassionate, professional and personalised care that they provide each and every day and it is positive to see this reflected in the recent excellent results from the CQC maternity patient survey. 

Rowan Burrows, co-chairman Devon Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnership, said: ‘We have been working closely with the maternity team by sharing the feedback of service users’ experiences and suggestions for changes. 

‘We will continue to work together to drive the continuous improvement of personalised and safe maternity care. There is a clear culture within Torbay and South Devon’s maternity services to proactively listen to and include the service users voice to make positive changes.’