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Midwives and docs promise to work together to improve care post-Kirkup

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Midwives and doctors have pledged to work more closely together in future following today’s highly critical report in maternity care failings at Furness General Hospital.

The Kirkup report, which looked into baby deaths at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, was particularly critical of a “them and us” culture between doctors and midwives.

It highlighted “extremely poor” working relationships between staff groups including midwives, paediatricians and obstetricians.

“Good working relationships between professionals are always critical to high quality maternity care”

Cathy Warwick

In a joint statement, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said they fully supported all of the Kirkup report’s recommendations.

They said previously the “learning” from the repeated care failings at the trust “appears to have been wholly inadequate”.

“We are committed to working together and to offering our support to ensure that the recommendations of this important report are implemented as soon as possible – this is crucial, given the critical importance to high-quality maternity services of multi-professional working and collaboration, the colleges said in the joint statement.

“It is vital that all healthcare professionals take note of this important report and learn the lessons contained within it,” they said.

Speaking separately, RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said the Kirkup report, though highly critical, provided a “blueprint for positive change” in the future. 

“We will commit wholeheartedly to improving safety for women, their babies and their families through working with others to implement the report’s recommendations,” she said. “Good working relationships between professionals are always critical to high quality maternity care.”

Dr David Richmond, president of the RCOG, said: “Effective and safe maternity care requires multidisciplinary decision-making, compliance with national guidelines and standards and ensuring that clinicians are up-to-date with their knowledge and skills.

We have already agreed to work closely to stamp out undermining behaviour which often leads to poor functional relationships and clinical performance,” he said.

He added: “We will continue to work closely with our clinical colleagues to ensure that we prevent avoidable harm by developing better risk assessment protocols, promoting stronger professional relationships and multidisciplinary team working in maternity services.”

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