Babies are at risk of dying from common treatable infections because NHS staff on maternity wards are not following national guidance and are short-staffed and overworked, an investigation has revealed.
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), a national safety watchdog, has warned that NHS staff on maternity wards face sometimes conflicting advice on treating women who are positive for a group B streptococcus (GBS) infection.
They are also making errors in women’s care because of the pressure of work and a lack of staff, with antibiotics not being administered when they should be.
HSIB’s specialist investigators examined 39 safety incidents in which GSB had been identified, and found that the infection had contributed to six baby deaths, six stillbirths and three cases of babies being left with severe brain damage.
In its report, the watchdog warned that the problems on maternity wards meant that even in cases where mothers were known to be positive for GBS infection, this wasn’t shared with the mother or noted in the record, resulting in the standard care and antibiotics not being provided.
It added: “The identification and escalation of care for babies who show signs of GBS infection after birth was missed. This has resulted in severe brain injury and death for some of the affected babies.”
Source: The Independent, 19 July 2020
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