Deaths at scandal-hit NHS hospital were not properly investigated because senior midwives 'failed to identify' bad practice, claims damning report

Obvious lapses in care at Furness General hospital were not highlighted

The deaths of mothers and babies at a scandal-hit NHS hospital were not properly investigated because senior midwives “failed to identify” bad practice, according to a damning report.

Midwives entrusted with monitoring and supervising their peers at the Furness General hospital did not highlight obvious lapses in care, such as babies not having their heart rates monitored, the health service ombudsman has said in a long-awaited report.

The ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, has reviewed the deaths of three babies and a mother at the hospital, part of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, after families complained about the care given to their loved ones.

Earlier this year, it emerged 37 families planned to take legal action against the hospital. The cases include nine baby deaths and eight cases of cerebral palsy.

Since 2002, the legal cases have involved the deaths of 14 babies and two mothers. Cumbria Police are investigating the death of one baby, Joshua Titcombe.

Dame Julie said the report unveiled “real weaknesses” in local supervision arrangements in midwifery. Supervising midwives had the task of investigating incidents, while also being responsible for their peers’ professional support and development. The report has called for the two roles to be separated to avoid “the potential for a conflict of interest”.

The families of babies who died said the case showed “just how dangerous the wrong type of leadership can be in the NHS”.

A statement was issued by Liza Brady and Simon Davey, whose son Alex was stillborn after midwives failed to raise concerns and involve more senior doctors; Carl Hendrickson, whose wife Nittaya and son Chester died; and James Titcombe, whose son Joshua died.

“As well as highlighting the catastrophic and repeated failures of the SHA (Strategic Health Authority), today's report also makes some substantial recommendations for changing the system of midwifery supervision in the UK,” they said.

”We have to point out, however, that it took five complaints to the SHA, a complaint to the ombudsman which was rejected, a further review by the ombudsman which again rejected the complaint and then finally the threat of judicial review and complaints from two other families before an investigation into these issues was eventually opened.”

Jackie Smith, chief executive of the professional regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council said: “We will give full consideration to the ombudsman's recommendations and will work with colleagues across the healthcare system to ensure that the regulation of midwives reflects the needs of the four countries.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

    £40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

    Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

    £26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

    £17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

    Day In a Page

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?