Watchdog: Not enough staff at St Michael's Hospital
A BRISTOL maternity hospital does not have enough staff, according to the health regulator.
The Care Quality Commission visited the city centre hospitals as part of its routine inspection programme. The watchdog found that University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust was meeting all but one of the Government's standards when it inspected Bristol Heart Institute, St Michael's and the Bristol Royal Infirmary emergency department.
But they said the trust was not meeting staffing requirements for maternity and midwifery services.
Inspectors said the trust had a ratio of one midwife to 39 births on the day they visited, while the recommended guideline is one midwife to 28 births. They were told by staff in the department that "although they were able to provide a safe service to all their patients, they did not have time to give the extra care and support that some women might need".
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Inspectors said they did not see practises that were unsafe but witnessed staff on 12-hour shifts eating their lunch at 4pm, and said not taking breaks from work in a timely manner meant there was "a risk that they are not able to deliver care safely and effectively".
They also saw evidence that the central delivery suite had closed on 53 occasions in 2011 to 2012 because it had reached capacity and that on half of these occasions the other trusts women would be diverted to were unable to take mothers in labour. This meant the trust continued to accept women after reaching capacity, which could increase clinical risk.
The CQC said that "overall people told us they received good care and received the information they needed about their care and treatment".
The hospital trust was given 14 days to send an action plan explaining how it would address concerns.
Chief nurse Alison Moon said: "The trust is working hard to increase the ratio of midwives to births against a steady increase in the number of babies born at St Michael's Hospital in recent years, coupled with a national shortage of midwives. We have produced an action plan to do this, which will see staffing ratios improve in both midwifery and consultant obstetricians.
"The service has introduced maternity support workers to help midwives working in the community and is using nurses to provide care where the specific skills of a midwife are not needed, for example providing care to mothers and babies on the postnatal ward, providing care in the recovery room and working in theatre."