A report into maternity care at Furness General Hospital revisits the same shocking issues as uncovered at Stafford Hospital.
As in Stafford’s case, a report has shown that poor care was covered up by a culture of secrecy and intimidation all in what seems to be an attempt to achieve foundation trust status.
Parents and relatives are left asking why the priorities of their children fell second to a hierarchy war.
It has been reported that the bid for improved status has led to unnecessary suffering of a number of babies on the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital. One sad example is the death of Joshua Titcombe who died here aged only nine days.
In 2011, an inquest stated Joshua died of natural causes however the coroner listed a series of failings by the maternity unit and said there were a number of chances for his life to have been saved.
An investigation found standard checks and record keeping were not carried out and therefore staff failed to recognise that his low body temperature was a symptom of sepsis.
Had this have been recognised, he would likely have received antibiotics to save his life.
Joshua’s story is sadly one of many and it is only after the commissioning of the Morecambe Bay Inquiry that his parents’ concerns have been appreciated.
It is not only the hospital who are at fault; the report lists in detail a series of missed opportunities by the North West Health Authority, Care Quality Commission and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to intervene earlier.
Tuesday’s independent inquiry, chaired by former senior Department of Health official Dr Bill Kirkup, looked at maternity care from 2004 to 2013.
It said the unit was “dysfunctional” with “extremely poor” working relationships between staff. Midwives pursued normal childbirth “at any cost”. This lethal mix led to the “unnecessary deaths” with 11 babies and one mother dying when different care would have saved their lives.
The report brings into play once more the NHS’s reputation and makes the general public query at which hospitals they can have faith that their health needs are main priority.