URGENT action must be taken over maternity staffing at Dewsbury and District Hospital, a watchdog has warned.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) issued a formal warning to hospital bosses after three visits by its inspectors last month.
It found cases of pregnant women waiting for hours in corridors, incomplete risk assessment forms and periodic closures of the delivery suite due to a lack of staff.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust’s new interim chief executive has promised to act.
Stephen Eames said: “We would like to reassure women that the CQC found that our patients are receiving safe care.
“This is what our patients have the right to expect and receive and I will not accept anything less from our services.”
Although inspectors found that patients were receiving safe care, they said the issues uncovered during their visits meant there was an increased risk of patient safety being compromised.
It found staffing levels in the delivery suite did not allow one-to-one care and midwives were sometimes redeployed from other units at short notice.
The delivery suite and triage unit did not have adequate health care assistant or clerical support, and a review of records revealed high levels of staff sickness.
CQC regional director Jo Dent said the law set standards of care that everyone should be able to expect and health providers had a duty to meet those standards.
She said: “This warning sends a clear message that Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust needs to address these issues or face serious consequences. We will be returning to the hospital to follow up on progress and, when we do, we will expect the trust to be able to demonstrate it has made sustained improvements.”
The trust has put a plan in place to make the improvements required by the CQC.
Mr Eames said: “These include making sure that we respond better to high levels of demand for our maternity services and all our staff are aware of the processes and policies that are in place to address any short staffing issues.
“We also know that there are some gaps in our staffing due to high levels of absences and we have agreed plans to make sure that we address these gaps.
“We will also be providing additional admin support within the department to make sure that our staff can focus their time on providing care.”
He said he was confident that the changes made would strengthen Dewsbury’s maternity service.
“We will make the further changes necessary and continue to work in partnership with the CQC to make sure that our patients receive safe, high quality maternity care,” he said.