The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has granted a positive rating to the maternity services provided by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust after a thorough examination conducted in May and June.

The evaluation encompassed aspects of safety and effective leadership in the maternity services delivered at both St James’s University Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary. The outcome of the assessment was an overall commendation of the maternity services at both establishments as good, particularly highlighting their effectiveness in ensuring safety and adept leadership.

This assessment was part of the CQC’s comprehensive nationwide inspection initiative for maternity care. The program’s objective is to furnish an up-to-date appraisal of the quality of maternity care provided by hospitals across the nation. Additionally, it aims to foster a more profound comprehension of successful practices that contribute to local and national advancements in this critical domain of healthcare.

Significantly, this represents the first time that the maternity services at both hospitals have been assessed and rated as an independent core service. In the past, evaluations were conducted for combined maternity and gynaecology services.

The CQC acknowledged the following areas of exceptional practice:

Demonstrated commitment to health equity: The maternity service actively collaborated with the Maternity Voices Partnership, engaging in focus group sessions to understand perceptions of maternity care. This insight facilitated enhancements for a more inclusive service.

Innovative engagement: A consultant midwife for health equity and a consultant obstetrician specialising in health equity collaborated with a media company on a project called ‘Our Maternity Voices.’ This initiative captured the experiences of individuals from higher-risk communities, contributing to improvements in maternal and neonatal health.

Health inequalities dashboard: Collaboration between the Deputy Chief Midwifery Information Officer, a consultant obstetrician, and the trust’s IT team resulted in the creation of a maternity health inequalities dashboard using Patient Level Costing (PLICs) data.

Specialised prematurity care: Dedicated midwives provided specialised care for women with predisposing factors for premature birth.

The inspection at St James’s University Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary also unveiled the following positive aspects:

Adequate staffing levels ensured patient safety and quality care.

Well-trained staff demonstrated effective teamwork to benefit service users.

Robust infection control measures were in place.

Risks to patients were identified, addressed, and recorded appropriately.

Competent management of medications.

Effective handling of safety incidents and integration of lessons learned.

Proficient leadership utilising reliable information systems, promoting staff skill development.

Strong alignment with the service’s vision, values, and practical application.

Staff felt valued, supported, and respected, reflecting a focus on patient needs.

Clear role understanding and accountability among staff.

Active engagement with the community to plan and manage services.

Ongoing commitment to service enhancement.

The report for St James’s University Hospital was released on the CQC website on August 16th. Subsequently, the report for Leeds General Infirmary was also published on the same date.

Prof Phil Wood, Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said today: “I am delighted that our maternity services have been rated ‘Good’ by the CQC. This is testament to the hard work of our teams at both sides of the city who are committed to providing the best possible care for our patients.

“This rating by the CQC gives confidence to patients and the public that the maternity services they can expect to receive here in Leeds are safe and well-led.

“It is great to see our teams recognised and in particular, the outstanding work we are doing here in Leeds to reduce health inequalities and improve maternity care for those in our local communities.

“Of course, there are areas for improvement and the report does highlight where further work is needed. These are all areas that our maternity team are aware of, and they are prioritising the work needed to make these improvements. We look forward to demonstrating further progress in future inspections.”