Lister Hospital's maternity ward has been rated inadequate after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission raised concerns over safeguarding and standards of care.

An inspection was carried out by the CQC in October last year, with the unit at the Stevenage-based hospital seeing its rating drop from good in the report published on Friday.

It was found that women and babies were not receiving the proper standard of care, while issues where raised over safeguarding.

The report went on to highlight how staff "did not always assess risks to women, act on them and keep good care records", "did not manage medicines well" and "equipment was not always well maintained".

The CQC also served a warning notice, meaning the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust now has a legal requirement to make improvements to avoid further enforcement action, while the Trust and Lister's overall rating remains requires improvement.

"I’m very concerned by the deterioration in the quality and safety of maternity care at Lister Hospital which falls shorts of what women should be able to expect," said Carolyn Jenkinson, head of hospital inspection at the CQC.

"This drop in quality and safety was down to insufficient management from leaders to ensure staff understood their roles, and to ensure the service was available to people when they needed it.

"We have issued the trust with a warning notice to focus its attention on rapid improvement in this area.

"Our inspection found the service lacked enough staff to provide good care and keep people safe. This was worsened because training targets weren’t being met, meaning even when there were enough staff, they didn’t always have right skills.

"We also found staff didn’t always follow best practice to protect people from infection or assess risk.

"However, we did find some good practice – including collaboration between staff, good monitoring of the service’s effectiveness and constructive community engagement.

"We also found the service had a strong culture where improvement, research and innovation were prioritised.

"Following the inspection, we have told senior leaders at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust where they must make improvements. They must use our report to address where the service is not meeting standards people have a right to expect.

"We continue to monitor the service and the wider trust, including through future inspections, to support it to deliver safe and effective patient care."