Maternity care still falling short
Room for improvement remains, as latest report into Furness case demonstrates
A birth injuries specialist has described modern maternity care negligence problems as “astounding”, and urged extra funding to help prevent further tragedies.
Diane Rostron, birth injuries specialist at Addies Solicitors, in Blackpool, said a recent report into the conduct of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) following the deaths of 11 babies and one mother at Furness General Hospital between the years of 2003 and 2013 highlighted the potentially devastating consequences of negligence during and after birth.
And she urged families affected by negligence in maternity care to take steps to share the issues they have experienced, and help prevent similar problems affecting other families.
“It’s astounding that in 2018 maternity care continues to be a significant problem in our hospitals, putting vulnerable lives in danger,” she said.
“More funding, more midwives and continued training and on-going fitness to practice assessments are required to prevent any further deaths in maternity units.”
The Professional Standards Authority review condemned the NMC’s “frequently incompetent” response to the deaths at the Barrow-in-Furness hospital between 2004 and 2013.
The first concerns about events at the hospital, run by Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, were raised in 2008. Despite Cumbria Police informing the NMC of 22 cases it had investigated, the review could find no evidence any of these were acted upon.
Last autumn it was also revealed by NHS Resolution that the amount of compensation paid for catastrophic birth injuries had almost doubled in the preceding five years to a total of almost Â£2bn.
Despite regular pledges to improve maternity safety standards, it also emerged in the same report that occurrences of the most serious mistakes had barely fallen in 20 years, and that the number of emergency closures of maternity wards increased from 225 in 2014 to 382 in 2016.
In response, health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that by 2021, all mothers-to-be will be allocated a specific midwife throughout their time under NHS care, with an initial aim of 20 per cent receiving this service by the spring of 2019.
Ms Rostron added: “It is quite alarming that the concerns raised by families relating to patient safety at Furness General Hospital were not acted on sooner, with reports stating that it took eight years to start Fitness to Practice hearings against some of the midwives involved.
“It is saddening to think how many lives were unnecessarily lost while they continued to deliver babies in the meantime.”
If you have been affected by maternity-related medical negligence, contact Diane Rostron’s team at Addies Solicitors on 01253 766 559 or email [email protected] for a free initial consultation.
For further information, visit dianerostron.co.uk