Great Western Hospital has come under fire from the health watchdog, which has ordered it to improve in a damning report.

An inspection by the Care Quality Commission was carried out at the Swindon hospital last September 2023, with the report published today (March 8) revealing some worrying findings.

The CQC visited the maternity service and downgraded it after finding staff had “inefficient training”.

GWH says it is "disappointed" with the report and has made improvements to the service in the six months since the inspection.

“Women and birthing people were not always assessed in a timely way and their care was not prioritised according to clinical need when they visited the service with pregnancy-related concerns,” the report reads.

“Staffing levels did not always match the planned numbers putting the safety of women and birthing people and babies at risk.

“Staff could not always find the information they needed or know where to look for information due to the service using several different recording systems.”

GWH is now rated ‘requires improvement’ overall, as well as for its maternity, surgery and emergency services. Previous visits have seen it rated 'good' for medical care, services for children and young people, critical and end of life care and outpatients.

Inspectors found that the surgery service “did not always control infection risk well” and “people could not always access the service when they needed it.”

“There were not always enough appropriately trained and skilled staff to care for children, and staff had training in key skills but not everyone had completed it,” the report added.

“The service was not meeting national targets in respect of waiting times and we were not assured there was enough oversight of risks to the services delivered.”

Staffing issues have been highlighted across all three of the areas rated 'requires improvement’.

A Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the CQC rating for maternity services has changed from 'good' to 'requires improvement'.

"We were already aware of the areas highlighted by the CQC and have been working on improvements for some time.

“We understand that some local women, birthing people and families might be concerned about this rating, however we want to reassure them that our staff continue to provide high levels of care, and that maternity services are now almost fully-staffed, with a strong pipeline for new recruits.

Swindon Advertiser: The hospital says it has been working to improve services since the inspection six months ago.The hospital says it has been working to improve services since the inspection six months ago. (Image: Newsquest)

In the past six months, GWH says it has introduced a new triage system to ensure that most women and birthing people are seen within 15 minutes.

The trust also says that it has made "significant improvement" in mandatory training compliance among staff and introduced more robust review processes.

"In their report, inspectors identified good morale and teamwork, well-controlled infection risks and noted collaborative working with a university to train staff in ‘Black Maternity Matters’ as outstanding practice," added the spokesperson.

"In a recent CQC survey conducted with women and birthing people who had used our maternity services, the Trust scored third highest in the country for questions relating to antenatal check-ups and care on the ward after birth.

"We were also in the top five Trusts for questions relating to care at home after birth.

“We recognise that there is still more work we need to do, and our maternity leadership team is working hard to drive forward continuous improvement to enable us to provide the very best level of service to our community."