As part of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) National Maternity Review programme, the CQC is inspecting all NHS acute hospital maternity services they have not been inspected and rated since April 2021.

The CQC inspects services provided by healthcare providers against five domains – safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

As part of the focused inspections, in March 2023, our maternity services were inspected against two domains, well-led and safe.

Inspection Report

Following the inspection, the CQC published a report on 17 August 2023, and downgraded the service to ‘Inadequate’.

The CQC recognised that women and people using the service said most staff were friendly and explained their care to them,  and that there was a culture for improvement within the team. However, the CQC raised concerns about insufficient staffing levels, governance and leadership processes, and mandatory training falling below the Trust’s target.

Jacqueline Totterdell Group Chief Executive said, “We take the findings of this report extremely seriously and accept that the standards on our maternity unit have fallen below what we expect.

“We have taken immediate action to address the concerns raised by the CQC and we remain committed to making improvements to ensure those providing and receiving care in our department have the best possible experience.

“I would like to reassure those due to give birth in our maternity unit that it continues to be a safe and positive environment to give birth in, which has been recognised by the CQC national patient experience maternity survey which rated St George’s as receiving the fourth highest patient satisfaction levels nationally in 2022 as well as being rated in the top three performing Trusts in London for antenatal care.

“We understand that people may be concerned, and I would encourage anyone who is to get in touch so we can listen to and answer questions directly.”

Making real improvements to patient care

Since March, we have made significant progress to address the concerns raised by the CQC, in a number of areas:

  • We have improved the patient triage assessment process on the delivery suite. Previously, there were three points of entry: the day assessment unit, the birth centre and triage. Now, all patients go to triage to be assessed in one location.
  • While our staffing levels align with national requirements, we have recruited an additional 15 midwives.
  • We have implemented a central system for fetal monitoring to ensure consistent and remote monitoring via the delivery suite and to provide uninterrupted care.
  • We have taken significant steps to improve our risk assessment process by working with our community and antenatal clinic matrons.
  • We have undertaken a thorough assessment of all clinical equipment in the maternity department and have removed any equipment not meeting specific requirements from use to ensure the safety of our patients.
  • We have addressed cleanliness issues raised by the CQC to provide a hygienic and safe environment for our patients.
  • We have installed a new birthing pool on the delivery suite to ensure that even in situations where services need to be diverted from the birthing centre, we can still offer the choice of a water delivery.

There are a number of positives in the report:

  • Recognition of our dedicated maternity helpline, which provides patients with immediate access to expert advice and support as needed.
  • Participation in the Capital Midwife Scheme, a framework and quality mark adopted by maternity units across London, ensuring consistent and high-quality preceptorships.
  • Staff adept at caring for patients with learning disabilities, utilising a ‘maternity passport’ to facilitate effective communication of their needs and preferences.
  • Notable advancements in equality within the maternity department and across the hospital. The Trust’s Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) action plan received an outstanding rating from the National WRES team.

The report is published here.

If you would like to speak to our maternity team about the report, please contact 0208 725 5946.

For more information, please contact our press office on 020 8266 6128 or email Paul Sheringham.(