Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have awarded NHS maternity services in Berkshire a coveted 'Good' rating.

Commissioners visited the maternity ward at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in November.

On the basis of these inspections, they have now delivered a review of maternity services in the local area.

The report praises health workers for safeguarding women in their care, and for taking steps to monitor and minimise risks.

Among the criticisms voiced in the report is that, during the inspection, it was found that people could leave the delivery and post-natal wards without being challenged.

Although there is a security presence at the main entrance, this post was seen unattended by inspectors at several points.

The report states that these issues have been addressed since.

Carolyn Jenkinson, the CQC's deputy director of secondary and specialist care, said Berkshire maternity staff should be "very pleased" with the review.

She stated: "When we inspected maternity services at Royal Berkshire Hospital, we found a service with strong leadership and passionate staff who were focused on the needs of women, people using the service and their babies.

"Staff kept good records, managed safety well, and worked together as a team for the benefit of everyone using the service.

"We found an open culture, where women and people using the service were treated with dignity and respect.

"The service provided amenity bags with toiletries and useful items for people whose labour had to be induced. The bags included information leaflets as well as books, puzzles, and games to help pass the time.

"Having an induction can be a stressful experience and thoughtful gestures like this can really improve people’s wellbeing.

"Leaders knew the issues the service was facing and were focused on making improvements and supporting staff to deliver the best possible care.

"For example, the service provided free travel and interpreters to reduce barriers to attending maternity appointments.

"They had also set up bespoke training for staff to understand how health inequalities could impact local people’s care and treatment.

"The trust should be really pleased with our findings, and we'll keep monitoring the service to ensure women, people using the service and their babies continue to receive a good standard of care."

Christine Harding, Royal Berkshire's director of midwifery, said: "We are very proud to be rated as 'Good,' and this inspection shows how our staff are passionate about continuous improvement and making the maternity experience safer and more positive for women and birthing people.

"Being rated as 'Good' for safety is a real testament to the hard work and commitment of the whole team.

"The inspectors recognised the level of service we provide, ensuring birthing people can access our service when they need it, using services such as our new 24-hour Maternity Assessment Unit."