Hard Labour In Local Maternity Wards

Hospitals amongst the 'least well performing' in the country

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Patient and Public Involvement Forum

Hammersmith Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital are among the worst performing in the country for maternity services according to a review by the Healthcare Commission.

London is also the worst place in the country to have a baby, according to the commission. Its research is based on feedback from 26,000 mothers.

Nineteen out of 27 NHS trusts in the capital were ranked as the poorest performers across a range of 25 indicators, ranging from tests during antenatal care to staffing levels on labour wards.

Hammersmith Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which fall under the remit of Hammersmith and Fulham Primary Care Trust (PCT), were given the lowest rating of four, meaning that they were judged as the 'least well performing'.

Hospitals were ranked as one (best performing), two (better performing), three (fair performing) and four (least well performing.).

Mike Wood, Chief Executive of Hammersmith and Fulham PCT, said: "We're confident that both local hospitals are providing safe care, but what the Healthcare Commission's review shows is that offering the very best care is also about the overall experience women have during childbirth.

"Both local maternity units deliver more than 4,500 babies each year; many more than some other units across the country. They also have particularly complex deliveries referred to them from other units. The challenge is to provide a personalised service to individual women while also offering high quality clinical care."

Mr Wood added: "There are several areas where the PCT's children's services and local GPs can support the hospitals. One indicator where both trusts scored poorly was on the discharge of new mothers and the support they receive in the first few weeks after birth. This is an area where better joint working between maternity units, our health visiting service and women's GPs could improve the quality of service"

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said "serious concerns" about maternity services had triggered three full-scale investigations by the commission and accounted for one in 14 referrals to its investigation unit on safety grounds.

"The review raises real concerns about performance in London. There are a number of factors that may have influenced these results such as lower staffing levels and the mobility and mix of the population. But London trusts need to rise to these challenge," she said.

Emma Midgley

February 8, 2008