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NMC chastises supervisors at Morecambe Bay maternity unit

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Supervisors at the troubled maternity unit at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust focused on protecting midwives, rather than mothers and babies, according to a Nursing and Midwifery Council report.

The regulator carried out an unannounced inspection with the Care Quality Commission in July, sparked by a coroner’s report into the death of newborn baby at the trust’s Furness General Hospital in 2008.

The CQC’s own report, published last month, identified “major concerns” with staffing levels, risk management and outdated facilities, and ordered urgent improvements to the service (news, page 6, 13 September).

The NMC’s report, published last Tuesday, said: “We were concerned to note a culture at Furness General Hospital maternity unit of supporting midwives and past midwifery practice, rather than focussing on what needs to be done to fulfil the primary purpose of supervision which is protecting mothers and babies.”

It added: “Whilst many midwives were able to clearly articulate how supervisors provided support to midwives (reflection and training), we did not hear any evidence of how supervision had supported families.”

The regulator also found “a lack of knowledge from senior medical and midwifery staff, including supervisors of midwives, about what was on the live maternity risk register” at the hospital, and that apparently the only staff member who had access to the register was on annual leave.

On the same day as the NMC released its review, foundation trust regulator Monitor confirmed that Morecambe Bay would be placed under increased scrutiny.

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