Maternity unit one of the very best

Posted on Wed, 02/03/2016

The maternity unit at QE Gateshead has been rated among the very best in the country by the official healthcare regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

New and expectant mothers across the region will be delighted to hear the maternity team described as “a highly committed, enthusiastic team, each sharing a passion and responsibility for delivering a high-quality service” by government inspectors.

The CQC gave maternity services at Gateshead an ‘outstanding’ rating - the highest possible mark - based on a detailed hospital inspection and feedback from local people. It confirmed that the QE provided safe and effective care in accordance with national guidance and that staff continually monitored outcomes for women and took action where improvements were necessary.

The unit in Gateshead sees around 1,800 births each year while the community midwifery teams provide care for more than 2,350 women.  The maternity unit has a number of key features to help new parents including: 

  • A dedicated unit separate from the main hospital.
  • Free parking for maternity.
  • Dads or birth partners can stay overnight (where capacity allows).
  • Personalised levels of care provided by a partnership of midwives and obstetricians.
  • A Family play room for visitors and siblings.
  • A special care baby unit for premature babies or those who need additional care.

The CQC highlighted the QE’s equipment, staffing, governance and management while confirming that midwifery and obstetric staff had the correct skills, knowledge and experience to do their job.

The CQC report said: “In the maternity unit, overall the care was rated as Outstanding. A survey of families whose babies received treatment in the unit showed all parent’s found staff were friendly and approachable. They felt they were involved in decisions about their baby’s care,  had someone to talk to about their worries and fears and had their baby’s treatment explained to them in way they understood.

“Overwhelmingly we received feedback that care was excellent and compassionate. Women reported being treated with respect and dignity and having their privacy respected at all times. Women told us that nothing was too much trouble for staff.

“Staff were highly motivated and passionate about giving exceptionally high standards of care. The service took account of complaints and concerns and took action to improve the quality of care.

“A highly committed, enthusiastic team, each sharing a passion and responsibility for delivering a high-quality service……engagement with patients and staff was strong. There was evidence of innovation and a proactive approach to managing performance improvement.

Lesley Heelbeck Head of Midwifery at QE Gateshead said: “Over the last year we’ve really moved the service forward and this is a very proud achievement for the hospital and the whole maternity team. To get an outstanding rating is what we aspire to, but is very difficult to achieve, so it’s wonderful to be recognised for the high levels of care we provide.

“We’ve had some fantastic feedback from the regulator but also from mums and local families who’ve used the QE. Because we’re a smaller unit we aim to provide much more personal and individual care to everyone who comes here to give birth.

“We want as many local people as possible to come here and start their family with us because we’re proud of providing an outstanding service for the start of new lives in Gateshead and now we can say that’s official!"

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “When we inspected Gateshead Health NHS Foundation NHS Trust, we found the care and treatment provided to patients was of a good standard across almost all services, with maternity services being outstanding.

“The trust is well-led. The executive team and non-executive directors had a strong feel for the vision and values of the trust and its strategic direction, including the need to look beyond the trust and work with partner agencies to ensure financial and clinical sustainability. I congratulate the trust on their Good rating and look forward to reporting further improvement at their next inspection”

The team has established, and worked closely with, a local group called Babies, bumps and beyond so that parents and pregnant women can help shape the service in Gateshead and their feedback was used in the recent redevelopment of the waiting room.

Midwives from the hospital also took to YouTube to offer advice to new families in a series of online videos that cover everything from changing nappies to bathing new babies (you can find them here)

A copy of the full CQC report can be found here.

You can find out more about giving birth in Gateshead, access helpful videos or even take a virtual tour of the unit here 


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