A POLITICAL row has broken out in the wake of the Care Quality Commission’s findings that Musgrove Park Hospital’s maternity services are in need of improvement.

The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Taunton and Wellington, Gideon Amos, said it showed the government had been ‘sitting on their hands.’

He said: “Many staff at Musgrove work incredibly hard despite difficult conditions so we’re clearly going to need to see some investment to get services back on track.

“It’s noticeable that the inspectors pointed to the ‘poor condition’ of maternity buildings as a key ‘challenge’.

“We were promised – by the Conservatives at the last General Election – an entirely new hospital in Taunton.

“Instead, the reality is staff are dodging buckets under the leaking roofs of the maternity unit.

“The last major project at Musgrove – the surgical unit now being completed – was approved back in 2008. All the Conservatives have done is talk a lot and fail to deliver.

“They’re still sitting on their hands as the rain comes in, underfunding local authority social care and letting dentistry disappear.

“It’s no wonder hospitals are unable to cope, and rates of mouth cancer are on the increase.

“As Liberal Democrats we would restore the tax on bank profits to fund our care services.”

But incumbent Conservative MP, Rebecca Pow, defended the government’s record and said she was now calling for improvements at the hospital to be fast-tracked.

Responding to the comments, she said: “This report from the Care Quality Commission is obviously disappointing given the past commendable record of the maternity unit and the hard work of its dedicated staff.

“Patient care and safety is of the utmost importance and I am pleased that Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is already addressing many of the issues raised in the report and has a plan to make the necessary improvements.

“The report shines a light on the inadequacies of the fabric of the buildings themselves, which brings into sharp focus the need for a new purpose built maternity unit. I have been championing this, working with the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust for many years.

“I am calling for the development of a new maternity unit to be fast forwarded ahead of the whole hospital upgrade which I am pleased will be in the programme for completion by 2030.

“I have already worked with the Foundation Trust and government to secure funding for the £11.5m surgical decision unit that has already opened and the £87m surgical centre which will deliver 10 state of the art theatres and endoscopy unit, construction of which is underway right now.

“I have drawn the situation regarding the maternity unit to the attention of Secretary of State for Health, Victoria Atkins, and she has assured me that she will make a visit as a matter of urgency, to see the situation for herself.”

Following the inspection, Carolyn Jenkinson, CQC’s deputy director of secondary and specialist care, said: “We found poor systems and processes for assessing women and people using the service who needed medical attention.”