A WATCHDOG has ordered the county’s short-staffed maternity service to improve after several whistleblowers raised concerns.

A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) based on an inspection in December found that staffing levels were often lower than planned and midwives did not feel comfortable raising concerns.

The watchdog downgraded the hospital’s maternity services from ‘safe’ to ‘requires improvement’ following the inspection highlighting that around a quarter of staff had not completed mandatory training.

But the report did say that staff at the hospital worked as a team to give mothers and babies good care and had effective prevention and control measures for infection.

Inspectors said they had been concerned about maternity services at the trust after it was contacted by four whistleblowers between July and September last year about safety in the department.

Midwives also told the CQC they did not always feel respected, supported or valued by managers and were uncomfortable raising concerns.

The report, published on Friday (February 19), also said the maternity service was always short-staffed and they were often moved around.

The county’s maternity service was last inspected in June 2018 and was rated ‘good’ overall by the CQC.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust's overall rating remains unchanged as 'requires improvement' following the inspection.

The hospital trust was moved out of special measures in September last year after nearly five years.

The trust has been told it must make improvements which include listening to staff, monitoring staffing levels and reporting and learning from all incidents.

Vicky Morris, the trust's chief nursing officer, said the drop in rating was “disappointing” but ten new midwives should be recruited by next week.

She said the trust had already been making changes to address staffing issues before the inspection.

“We have run a very successful recruitment campaign for midwives and once the next round of recruitment is completed next week we should have filled all our vacancies and recruited an additional 10 midwives to further strengthen our workforce," she said.

“We are also continuing to actively engage with all our staff. Our regular briefings with colleagues across all sites, which had been introduced before the inspection, give everyone in our teams opportunities to ask questions, raise concerns and be kept up to date with the further improvements.

“We have also strengthened local leadership for our countywide maternity team, recruiting two matrons – one for inpatient services and one for community services."