Hospitals in Halifax and Huddersfield have been told to make improvements after a visit from government inspectors.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has criticised maternity, critical care and children’s services at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust after an unannounced inspection.
The trust was praised for some of its services, including A&E, surgery and outpatients, in a report published by the watchdog today.
But the organisation was rated as “requires improvement” overall after being inspected over four days in March.
The report raises concerns over women waiting too long to have emergency caesareans because of delays opening a second obstetrics theatre.
Six category one caesareans, which are supposed to happen within half an hour, had been delayed by between 37 and 88 minutes in the last 12 months.
The CQC’s report said: “There was a second theatre within the main operating department, but out of hours the team which staffed it were not on site and had to travel from home.
“A category one caesarean section should occur within 30 minutes as it is a situation where an immediate life threat to a woman or baby has been identified.”
The inspection also found that patients were spending up to a week stuck on A&E observation units at the hospitals because of delays getting beds on wards.
The Clinical Decision Units are designed to move patients who are not yet well enough to be discharged out of busy A&E departments.
The CQC said: “The clinical decision unit was often not available to the emergency department as patients waiting for beds on other wards remained on the unit for up to a week, even though it did not have the facilities for patients who needed longer than 24 hour care.”
The trust was rated “requires improvement” for being safe, effective and well-led, but “good” for being caring and responsive.
The report said: “Patients on the whole told us they were happy with the care they received and the attitude of staff.
“We observed staff engaging with patients in a caring and respectful manner.”
Inspectors also found that the trust was consistently meeting its targets for A&E patients to be either admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours of arriving at hospital.
Ellen Armistead, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “I am sure that Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust will build on the positives in this report but also focus on those areas for improvement which we have identified. We will return in due course to check their progress.”
The NHS trust said the results of the inspection showed that 70 per cent of its services were rated “good”.
Chief executive Owen Williams said: “It is good that our patients can be confident that they will receive good care when they need our help. It’s also great that the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers has been recognised by the CQC.
“Alongside the important work of improvement we will continue to deliver in the areas reported as outstanding and good which make such a difference to the people we serve.”