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Morecambe Bay apologies for failings but claims it is improving   

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Health service managers say a “number of service improvements” have been implemented in the wake of the failings in maternity care that occurred there at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria.

The findings of an independent investigation into avoidable baby deaths at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust was published earlier today in a report, which highlighted a catalogue of failings.

In a statement issued in response to the Kirkup report, the trust said it “apologised unreservedly to the families of those who suffered as a result of poor care” in the maternity unit at Furness General from 2004-13.

“On behalf of the trust, I apologise unreservedly to the families concerned”

Pearse Butler

Trust chair Pearse Butler admitted that “some very serious mistakes” had been made, that the same mistakes had been repeated and there had been a “lack of openness” in telling families what had happened.

“For these reasons, on behalf of the trust, I apologise unreservedly to the families concerned,” he said. “As the chair of the trust board, it’s my duty to ensure that lessons are learned and that we do everything we possibly can to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

The trust said it accepted the criticisms made in the Kirkup report and that it also accepted its recommendations “without reservation”. Among its findings, the report had noted concerns about staff skill levels and a “them and us” culture between doctors and midwives.

However, the trust noted that its entire board had been changed since the start of the investigation and that the trust had now made a number of service improvements.

These included a “significant investment” in staffing, with over 50 additional midwives and doctors, and moves to ensure best practice and learning were shared consistently across all of our hospitals.

In addition, the trust said it had improved its “culture” and team working, for example, by introducing multi-disciplinary ward rounds that take place four times a day in its maternity units.

Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel noted that the board “must not be complacent”, despite the improvements it had made.

“We will address all the recommendations in this report to ensure that we further improve the services we offer to women and families, across our hospitals,” she said.

Speaking to Nursing Times in July 2014, the trust’s executive chief nurse Sue Smith said she was adamant things were improving at a rapid pace.

“I want people to see how far we have moved on and how quickly,” she told Nursing Times.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This report has echo's of the Francis Report in which a defensive and closed culture in the Trusts prevailed. We can hope that Morecambe Bay Trust will make patient feedback a central part of having an open and transparent culture. The regulatory bodies were criticised for their failings too - hopefully local Healthwatch organisations will be more effective in ensuring the patient voice is part of improvement strategies.

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