The quality and extent of variation between maternity services across England will be examined by the former chair of the Morecambe Bay Inquiry.
Bill Kirkup, who led the probe into infant and maternal deaths at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, has been appointed as a special adviser to NHS England’s national maternity review.
“They would be missing something if they don’t take into account the variation in existing services”
It is expected his work will examine how services are currently provided.
It is understood his appointment follows concerns within NHS England that the review was not doing enough to consider the current configuration of services and how that affected patient care.
NHS England said the work Dr Kirkup will carry out will focus on clinical effectiveness, safety and patient experience.
Dr Kirkup told Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal that he was asked whether he would lead work as a special adviser “looking at what the current quality of service is and how it varies in different places”.
He added: “It is important that the national review is informed by what is the starting position and taking account the variation in services. This is about getting a full picture to feed into the national maternity review.
“They will be coming out with recommendations for how services ought to develop in future and what they should look like,” he said. “They would be missing something if they don’t take into account the variation in existing services – learning from where services are good, but equally reducing the risk of replicating bad services.”
Dr Kirkup, who led investigations into Jimmy Savile’s involvement with Broadmoor Hospital, said a special task group would meet for the first time later this month to start the work with a view to producing something for the national review by the end of the year.
The national maternity review, being led by Baroness Cumberlege, was established after the publication of the Morecambe Bay Inquiry report and the Five Year Forward View.
In a statement, NHS England said Dr Kirkup’s work “will inform the [review’s] other work streams by providing them with insight into what services look like now, where services are exemplary, where they need improvement and what lies in between”.