Health Board Maternity Services in Special Measures after Review

Author:
Ian Cohen
Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence Claims
Date:
02/05/2019

A Welsh health board’s maternity services have been put into special measures, after a review concluded they are “dysfunctional” and putting patients at risk.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology and the Royal College of Midwives uncovered a host of failings at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant and Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, including:

      • Staff shortages putting available midwives under “extreme pressure”
      • Lack of awareness of guidelines, protocols, triggers and escalations
      • Inadequate consultant cover out of hours
      • Insufficient support for junior doctors
      • A “punitive culture” within the service, with a view among staff that their concerns weren’t being listened to by senior management

If you believe you received inadequate medical care at Royal Glamorgan and/or Prince Charles Hospitals’ maternity services and you believe you were put at risk, get in touch with our Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free legal advice. Ask if we can deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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Serious Incidents Not Reported

The review also found that serious incidents at the hospitals had been under-reported, with 67 stillbirths dating back to 2010 not being reported for inclusion in national statistics. The investigation was prompted by 25 serious incidents between January 2016 and September 2018, including 8 stillbirths and 4 neonatal deaths.

As part of the special measures imposed on Cwm Taf Health Board, an independent maternity oversight panel will be set up. Arrangements to improve the effectiveness of board leadership will also be put in place, while the NHS Delivery Unit will work with the board to ensure effective arrangements are in place for reporting, managing and reviewing patient safety concerns and incidents.

Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Health Minister, described the findings of the report as “serious and concerning”, stating that the care provided in these maternity services has “fallen well short of the expectation that we all have for care provision anywhere in Wales”.

“I am determined that the actions I am announcing will drive the changes necessary to improve maternity services in Cwm Taf,” he said.

Helen Rogers, Director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), added that the women, babies and families cared for by Cwm Taf have been failed “too many times”.

“There are very real problems in terms of having the right amount of staff, with access to the right training, to support the delivery of safe and high quality care,” she said. “This in turn puts significant pressure on staff in the maternity service and does not support them to deliver the level of care that they want to. Too often the system and the leadership at the health board did not support staff to do their job to the best of their ability.”

Ms Rogers went on to state that the health board’s leadership has often failed to act “when things have gone wrong”, and insisted that when serious issues or incidents occur, they must be investigated so lessons can be learned for the future.

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