Darlington maternity 'dysfunctional' elements 'must improve'

Darlington Memorial Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption The CQC flagged up "dysfunctional" elements but said the hospital was well led and safe overall

A "dysfunctional" maternity unit must further improve to ensure mothers and babies are safe, a watchdog has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected Darlington Memorial Hospital after "serious incidents and concerns around the culture".

There was a "real drive to improve" but "poor behaviours and performance" still needed addressing, it said.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust welcomed the report's conclusion that "services are safe and well led".

"Good progress" was being made on improvement action plans, a trust spokesperson said.

'Time to embed'

Despite this, there "continued to be issues relating to the cohesiveness of certain groups of medical staff", CQC inspectors found.

"Certain elements of the obstetrics team remained dysfunctional with a lack of clinical engagement and support," their report said.

There was some confusion over how guidelines were followed, but this was being addressed.

The trust was also working with the relevant members of staff, inspectors noted.

Chief inspector of hospitals Prof Sir Mike Richards said there were "issues relating to the culture in certain areas - particularly among the medical team".

"Although there was no evidence to suggest that individual clinicians were not caring for women, clinical engagement and support was not always effective," he said.

The trust had carried out its own investigations but "any significant change in culture may take some time to embed", he added.

Overall, inspectors found services at the hospital were safe and well led, the CQC said.

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