Staff to be increased at RUH maternity wing
The number of staff at the Royal United Hospital’s maternity wing is to be increased.
Cleaning procedures will also be reviewed after official watchdogs said the Princess Anne Wing was not meeting standards for cleanliness and infection control.
The Care Quality Commission, which inspected the unit in December, has told the NHS trust which runs it that it needs to improve both cleanliness and staffing.
A report said that patients were not protected from the risk of infection at all times because audit systems were not fully robust, and that not all areas of the unit could be effectively cleaned.
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It said one patient toilet block was in a particularly poor state of repair.
“The paint on the walls was missing or peeling in a significant number of areas and the plasterwork on another wall had been damaged.
“The poor state of decor did not allow the area to be effectively cleaned, and the flooring was showing signs of age, wear and tear.”
The watchdog body said there were not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to safely meet patients’ needs at all times.
The report said: “Patients we met had mixed views of the availability of staff.
“Some patients said they felt staff were stretched at times, but they felt their needs had still been met.
“Other patients said they felt safe at all times.
“We talked with some staff on duty who said they felt the ward did not have enough staff.
“They told us the staffing levels had been adversely affected by long-term sickness absence and maternity leave, and they felt the demand for hospital births had increased and the demands from patients were growing.”
In 2011/12, the wing delivered 4,003 babies, an increase of just under 600 births since 2008/09.
For the period of April to November last year, the ratio of midwives to births was one to 38, compared to a national recommended ratio of one to 28.
The unit was praised for meeting standards for respecting and involving people who use its services.
It is run by the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, whose chief nurse Hilary Walker said: “Improving staffing has been identified as a priority at the Great Western Hospital and at the Princess Anne Wing, as it is for many other maternity services across the country.
“We have already started planning to increase the number of qualified, skilled and experienced midwives supporting these services.”
She added: “Cleanliness and infection control measures at the Princess Anne Wing are being closely monitored and regular audits are taking place.”
The trust has just secured £400,000 from the Department of Health to refurbish the unit, creating a more modern environment, making cleaning and infection control measures much easier and more effective.
Ms Walker said: “The improvements will provide a more pleasant working environment for staff, as well as a more comfortable birthing experience for mothers and their partners.
“We are pleased that, although there are further improvements to be made, feedback from women remains positive across all off our maternity services, with particular praise given to the attitude of our staff.”