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CQC criticises hospital over death of newborn babies

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A hospital that came under fire after two newborn babies died in its maternity unit has failed to implement sufficient improvements, the Care Quality Commission has said.

An investigation was launched following the death of Romy Feast, who was born by caesarean section at Milton Keynes Hospital in June 2007 but died after her cardiotocography was misinterpreted.

The hospital was later reported to the Department of Health, prompting a Healthcare Commission investigation that set out recommendations in a report in 2008.

But last May another child, Ebony McCall, died on an overstretched maternity ward at the same hospital.

The Care Quality Commission, which took over from the Healthcare Commission, concluded that temporary measures put in place by Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation Trust were “not sustainable”.

It said the trust must “plan better” for emergencies, complicated births and staff shortages and ensure “staff know what to do in these circumstances”.

And it said the trust should recruit more permanent midwives and open more permanent beds, providing swift back-up when necessary.

The move was welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives. General secretary Cathy Warwick said: “The actions and improvements made by Milton Keynes are welcome. The continuing increase in the number of births has made it difficult to ensure that midwife numbers keep pace, and this is the case for many Trusts across England. This has put pressure on maternity services, with midwives working harder and harder to continue delivering safe, quality care. I think that there are lessons to be learned here for all trusts; that resources must match demand.

“The Government has given additional money to trusts specifically for maternity services. We would expect Milton Keynes, along with all Trusts, to ensure that this money reaches the front line, and that all the resources needed to deliver good quality maternity services are in place. Crucially, this means having the right number of midwives to meet demand.”

Roxy Boyce, Care Quality Commission regional director in the South East, acknowledged some improvements had been made but added: “While we believe the trust has now made suitable arrangements to effectively manage demand in the short term, the trust has not sufficiently planned for the added demand on its services.

“More midwives are needed if the trust is to open more permanent beds and deal with demand in the future.

“We want to see a trust that is determined to get it right for every mother, with zero tolerance of poor safety standards, whatever the pressures.”

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