University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust is to hold an independent internal inquiry into its maternity and neonatal services, after a series of infant and maternal deaths.
Police are currently looking into the trust over the deaths of seven babies. The investigation was sparked by complaints from the parents of Joshua Titcombe, who died nine days after being born at Furness General Hospital in 2008.
In addition, the foundation trust regulator Monitor said last February that mothers and babies at the hospital remained at “significant risk” after a surprise Care Quality Commission inspection in June 2011 led to a damning report on maternity services there.
Announcing the internal inquiry, trust chair Sir David Henshaw said: “It is imperative that the trust fully understands the underlying causes of the previous failures to provide the required standards of care in maternity and neonatal services within its hospitals.
“The inquiry will commence following the conclusion of the ongoing police investigation into the death of babies and mothers, following care received at Furness General Hospital,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government last week announced that more than 100 hospitals would share a £25m fund to improve and upgrade their maternity units.
Several older maternity hospitals will be refurbished, including one at Taunton and Somerset that dates back as far as the 1940s. There will also be funding for almost 40 new birthing pools, eight new midwife-led units and more en suite facilities.
The government asked trusts to bid for part of the funding last November. Bids were judged by a panel that included representatives from the Royal College of Midwives.