University helps with hospitals’ recruitment drive for midwives

Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre.
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

The University of Nottingham has increased the number of places on its midwifery training courses to help solve staffing shortages on city maternity wards.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust – made up of Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital – was rated inadequate by the CQC following inspections last October.

Since then, the Trust has launched a recruitment drive to take on more midwives.

A meeting of the NUH board was told: “The University of Nottingham increased the number of training places and (made) a successful Health Education England bid to support innovative initiatives such as trainers to train midwifery support workers.”

Board papers stated that although the changes put in place so far were making a difference, there was “still a lot to do”.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said last October that “serious concerns” at the trust “were impacting on women’s care and safety”.

In May 2021 the CQC visited the trust again and found some improvements had been made.

Sarah Dunnett, CQC head of hospital inspection, added: “I am pleased the trust has responded to some issues we raised in the warning notice following our previous inspection of its maternity services.

“However, it has more work to do regarding how it captures, records and uses patient information in these services so that staff have a full picture of people’s healthcare needs. This includes ensuring information about women who may be affected by serious mental health issues is appropriately escalated.

“We continue to monitor the trust closely, including through future inspections.”

The trust is still rated good overall although its maternity services remain inadequate.

Parents of two babies who died at the trust have previously called for a public inquiry into the deaths.

An inquest found that there were ‘gross failings’ in the care baby Wynter Andrews, who died at the hospital in September 2019.

Parents Jack and Sarah Hawkins have also campaigned for change after the death of their daughter Harriet Hawkins in 2016.

A Nottingham University Hospitals spokesperson said: “We’ve already taken significant steps to improve recruitment and retention and are committed to further increasing our staffing levels in maternity. We will endeavour to continue recruiting until all vacancies have been filled, and our staff will continue working tirelessly to improve services for local women and families.”

The spokesperson added that midwives only qualify at one point in the year which makes it challenging to bring in large numbers at other times.

The trust is also looking at overseas recruitment, with European and African midwives joining soon.

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