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University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust

Morecambe Bay seeks 'partner' to help improve maternity services

Hospital trusts up to 200 miles away from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust have answered its appeal for a “maternity stability partner”, a role which could require sharing staff.

According to the trust’s August board papers, it received responses from from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire Trust to the request for support, which closed in July.

They state the stability partner would help to deliver the maternity service, which has been the focal point of a care scandal in recent years

Morecambe Bay invited bids for two separate “offerings” in relation to the service:

  • Offering 1 was for a partner to share clinical good practice and support in relation to governance, including pooling training and sharing lessons learned
  • Offering 2 involved the sharing of staffing resources between Morecambe Bay and the partner

Lancashire submitted a response in relation to offering 1. The trust declined to comment on its bid.

Morecambe Bay’s board papers say that Blackpool’s response indicated it did not consider either of the offerings as ways it could offer assistance.

The FT suggested instead establishing a “pan Lancashire provider maternity network”. This would provide a forum for member organisations to “share experiences and opportunities to learn best practice”.

A spokesman for Blackpool said discussions with Morecambe Bay had not yet “progressed to any level of detail”.

“The trust is keen to support and help develop other maternity units”

Mark Radford

Coventry and Warwickshire indicated they would be interested in offering 2 but were not able to get their bid in before the deadline “due to staff absence”.

They are, however, meeting with Morecambe Bay in September to “explore how a stability partner relationship could work”.

It is not clear how the West Midlands trust, which is a 200 mile drive from Furness General Hospital, would provide the sharing of staff resources involved in offering 2.

Coventry and Warwickshire chief nursing officer Mark Radford said: “The trust is keen to support and help develop other maternity units [which] may benefit from our breadth of expertise. 

“No formal bid has been made and discussions are still at an early stage following one initial meeting so it is difficult to provide more detail at this time.”

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Sue Smith

Sue Smith, chief nurse at Morecambe Bay, said it had made “significant improvement” in its maternity services but wanted to take this to “the next level”.

She added: “We believe we can do this by working with another organisation to share governance processes and act as fresh eyes for each other − reviewing services and processes in a truly objective way.”

A series of maternal and infant deaths at Morecambe Bay’s Furness General Hospital between 2004 and 2013 is currently the subject of an independent investigation.

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