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Serious hospital failings put mothers and babies at risk

Author: Clare Middleton

A damning report into maternity services in the North West was revealed this week, showing that lapses in care in maternity services had led to avoidable deaths and long term harm to patients.

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which is responsible for North Manchester General Hospital and The Royal Oldham Hospital, was forced to disclose the report that had been prepared for the trust’s board. It showed that an internal review had been carried out and had found that mums and babies had been put at unacceptable risk by bad clinical decisions, chronic short staffing and poor attitude of staff.

These failings had led to a maternal death following catastrophic haemorrhage after symptoms were put down to mental illness, a baby dying because staff failed to identify the mother’s rare blood type, a mum who was left with a colostomy because her condition was not diagnosed on three occasions, and a very premature baby who was left to die alone in a sluice room.

These distressing examples were given to highlight the ‘enduring culture’ of poor care received by mums and babies over a number of years.

The report identified failings to monitor basic vital signs, poor documentation, key lab results being left unchecked, missing information from patient records, breaches of safety procedures and poor interpretation of fetal heart monitoring.

Whilst the strain on NHS finances is well known, there can be no excuse for avoidable death and injury in our maternity services.

Professor Matthew Makin, Medical Director at the Trust, said “We are steadily making the necessary improvements so that patients can receive reliable, high quality care across all of our services…we have fully reviewed our risk and governance arrangements including learning from incidents and complaints, and are making progress in improving the way we listen and involve our staff to address the long standing problems and challenges facing our teams.”

If you have concerns about the care and treatment that you and your baby received, at any point in your pregnancy, labour or postnatal period, then please contact for us for a confidential and no obligation consultation.

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