Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Morecambe Hospital provided “lethal mix of failures”

The investigation into unexpected deaths of newborn babies and mothers at Furness General Hospital between 2004 and 2013 has been published today and is highly critical of both staff at Furness General Hospital, and regulatory bodies for allowing “serious and shocking” avoidable deaths.

The investigation, headed up by Dr Bill Kirkup a former senior Department of Health official, follows a number of highly critical investigations into treatment offered by maternity services at Furness General Hospital in Morecambe. These investigations included Coroner’s Inquests which had found that midwives failed to spot and treat serious infection that should have been diagnosed and treated, avoiding deaths.

It had also previously been revealed that the NHS Trust had covered up for over a year a report that it had commissioned by one of the UK’s leading nursing Expert’s, Dame Pauline Fielding. The report had exposed failings in the relationships of clinicians and managers at the hospital.

The Care Quality Commission, the Government body set up to monitor and enforce good care practices throughout the UK had also previously been criticised for overlooking these failings in its 2010 Report.

Today’s Report has found that:

  • The Maternity unit at Furness was “dysfunctional” offering “substandard care” by staff who were “deficient in skills and knowledge”;
  • Poor working relationships were commonplace at the hospital which contributed to the low level of care provided;
  • There had been a “significant organisational failure” by the Care Quality Commission in its assessment and reporting of the hospital;
  • Other Government bodies missed opportunities to raise and address the issues earlier, risking more lives.

The ramifications of this damning and deeply worrying report will be wide ranging and hard hitting and focus on maternity treatment in the UK as a whole, as opposed to just that provided by the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Kirkup has made 44 recommendations to improve care and monitoring and regulatory procedures; including:

  • Formal admissions of the extent of the failings by Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust;
  • National review of maternity care offered by the NHS;
  • General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council investigations into the staff involved in the scandal between 2004 and 2014;
  • Thorough reviews and investigations by Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust into the competency and training of its staff including audits of the department;
  • A duty on NHS Management to disclose all reports and findings commissioned by Trusts;
  • A protocol for NHS Trusts when being involved in Inquests, with the aim of preventing Hospital from “avoiding” the process.

The full Report detailing all recommendation can be found here.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by the treatment at Furness General Hospital, or any other Hospital, contact Chris Thorne in our national specialist Clinical Negligence Team.