An investigation by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39794204) which involved freedom of information act request to NHS Trusts, found that over 300,000 adverse incidents had been recorded in a 4 year period. Whilst it is not clear what nature of incidents these refer to, the sheer number of events is a concern and in particular the finding that there were several avoidable baby deaths at one single Trust.
We welcome the government’s new initiative to increase investment in maternity safety training and the introduction of a fast tracking process for investigating claims involving injured babies through the newly named NHSR.
The recent investigation launched into the death of 8 babies in the maternity unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital is yet another example of a maternity unit failing to provide a safe environment. Read more here: http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/investigation-launched-deaths-eight-babies-13053955
The investigations echoes the findings at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust which recently reported that it had investigated the deaths of at least 7 babies over a two year period. In that case a failure to properly monitor the baby’s heart rate was a contributory factor in five of the deaths.
We know from the claims that we have investigated, that it is rarely a single event that leads to tragic outcomes in birth cases , rather a contribution of a number of failings such as poor communication, recording of information of lack of senior consultant involvement. There is no doubt that units do their utmost but the high level of adverse incidents highlighted by the BBC;s investigation are a cause for significant concern. The number of incidents must be reduced if the NHS is to provide the level of care and safety that mothers and infants deserve.