Serious concerns have been raised over the standard of Shropshire’s A&E departments, with the chief inspector of hospitals warning he is monitoring the situation.

Professor Edward Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said there are also areas of poor practice at the maternity departments at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

Professor Baker said inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited the two hospitals in April, with a full report due out next year.

But inspectors returned in November to check the maternity departments again.

He said the situation at the accident and emergency sites raised concerns and said he will step in if necessary.

He said: “Inspectors highlighted serious concerns at the emergency departments and medical wards at the Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital during the current inspection. 

“As a result, CQC has taken further urgent action at the departments to protect the safety of patients. 

“We are monitoring the trust extremely closely and continue to work with NHS England and NHS Improvement with regard to the trust. 

“Our monitoring of the trust will include further inspections and we will not hesitate to take further action if needed.” 

He did not reveal what the new concerns were or what action was being taken.

He added that inspectors also found key areas at the maternity departments of both hospitals which “must” be acted on.

He said at Shrewsbury there were “areas of poor practice where the trust must make improvements”.

“The trust must ensure midwife staffing is improved to ensure women receive safe and high-quality care and treatment,” he added.

“The trust must ensure all risks are assessed, managed and mitigated through good governance systems and in line with up-to-date guidance.”

He added that the trust should ensure the birthing room is adequately staffed and has timely access to the right equipment to ensure women had the choice to use the rooms safely.

In respect of the Princess Royal, he said: “The trust should ensure a review of the staffing at the midwife led unit is undertaken as part of the Better Births programme.

“The trust should ensure the environment in the MLU is safe by keeping harmful chemicals secure.

“The trust should ensure all medical staff are appropriately trained in cardiotocography analysis.”

But he said there had been a number of improvements since April, as inspectors found that, while more work is still needed, staffing had increased, and morale and governance had improved.

He added: “We have found that the trust had taken action as a result of our last inspection in April and that this had resulted in a number of improvements. 

“Patients also told us that staff were kind and compassionate but more work is needed and we will return to carry out further checks on this service.”

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is currently rated inadequate overall. 

Paula Clark, chief executive of The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We are pleased the CQC has found improvements in our maternity services and patients and families say staff are kind and compassionate. 

“Since inspections in April we have appointed 29 new midwives, a new director of midwifery, a new care group director and two new consultants and we will continue to build on these improvements, but we appreciate there is more work still to do.

“In our emergency departments, we acted immediately on CQC findings by improving our processes, increasing specialist training for staff and we have already appointed a sepsis nurse.

“But we recognise there is more to do and we are building a programme of improvement to address the areas of concern and ensure our patients receive the best possible care.”