Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals: Concerns over mental health treatment

Newborn baby's feet
Image caption The Ockenden review is investigating some 800 cases of concerns in maternity care

Inspectors have taken further action against a hospital trust because of concerns over the treatment of mental health patients, the BBC understands.

It comes as a Care Quality Commission report said maternity care has improved at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, but emergency services still require urgent action.

The trust is at the centre of an independent inquiry into concerns over maternity care.

It said there was still work to do.

The trust has been in special measures since November 2018.

The new concerns about mental health are understood to have been outlined in a Section 31 notice, sent to the trust last Friday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The trust runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

It comes as reports, published on Friday, after unannounced inspections to maternity units at both Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, in April by CQC inspectors highlighted safety concerns over staff vacancies and staff sickness rates.

But at a follow-up inspection in November the CQC said staffing had increased, and morale and governance had improved.

Prof Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, however, said there were still "serious concerns at the emergency departments and medical wards" and the CQC had "taken further urgent action" to "protect the safety of patients".

The CQC said details of those concerns, relating to the November inspections, would not be published until next year.

The independent inquiry into maternity care at the trust was ordered in 2017, by the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt into avoidable baby deaths at the trust.

It is now thought to include more than 800 cases including deaths, serious injuries, and where families have concerns about the care they received.

Image copyright Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
Image caption Paula Clarke, interim chief executive, said the trust still had more work to do

Paula Clark, Interim Chief Executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said it had appointed 29 new midwives, a new director of midwifery, a new care group director and two new consultants since April.

"We will continue to build on these improvements, but we appreciate there is more work still to do," she said.

"In our emergency departments, we acted immediately on CQC findings by improving our processes, increasing specialist training for staff and we have already appointed a sepsis nurse.

"We are building a programme of improvement to address the areas of concern and ensure our patients receive the best possible care."

The CQC refused to confirm whether the latest concerns were linked to staffing levels or sepsis care, two issues recently raised at hospital board meetings.

Last week, the board heard the trust was set to lose two substantive consultants in A&E over the next two months.

Even with the appointment of an extra locum early next year it would take the total number of A&E consultants across both Shrewsbury and Telford sites to 10, half of what the Royal College of Emergency Medicine recommends.

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