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Found 46 results
  1. Content Article
    The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) published ‘Summary of themes arising from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch maternity programme (April 2018-December 2019)’ in February 2020. This described eight themes for further exploration in order to highlight opportunities for system-wide learning; one of these themes was group B streptococcus (GBS). This report, Severe brain injury, early neonatal death and intrapartum stillbirth associated with group B streptococcus infection, highlights a number of patient safety concerns and recommends that maternity care providers should consider the findings and make necessary changes to their local systems to ensure that mothers and babies receive care in line with national guidance. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will keep the theme of group B streptococcus under review and consider a future national investigation to explore this subject further.
  2. News Article
    A hospital trust at the centre of Britain’s largest ever maternity scandal has widespread failings across departments and is getting worse, the care regulator has warned as it calls for NHS bosses to take urgent action. Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, urged NHS England to intervene over the “worsening picture” at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, which is already facing a criminal investigation. There are as many as 1,500 cases being examined after mothers and babies died and were left with serious disabilities due to poor care going back decades in the trust’s maternity units. Now, in a leaked letter seen by The Independent, Prof Baker has warned national health chiefs that issues are still present today across wards at the trust – with inspectors uncovering poor care in recent visits that led to “continued and unnecessary harm” for patients. He raised the prospect that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) could recommend the trust be placed into special administration for safety reasons, which has only been done once in the history of the NHS – at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, where a public inquiry found hundreds of patients suffered avoidable harm and neglect because of widespread systemic poor care. In a rarely seen intervention, Prof Baker’s letter to NHS England’s chief operating officer, Amanda Pritchard, warned there were “ongoing and escalating concerns regarding patient safety” and that poor care was becoming “normalised” at the trust, which serves half a million people with its two hospitals – the Royal Shrewsbury and Telford’s Princess Royal. Read full story Source: The Independent, 16 July 2020
  3. News Article
    Only two out of 23 recommendations from a royal college review into a trust’s troubled maternity services can be shown to be fully implemented, a new investigation has revealed. A learning and review committee, set up by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, found that 11 more of the recommendations from a 2016 review by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) were “partially” implemented. But it said there was either no evidence the remaining 10 had been delivered, or there was evidence they were not implemented. The original RCOG review looked at a number of cases where babies had died as well as broader issues within the maternity service at the trust. The committee was set up after an inquest into the death of Harry Richford, who died a week after his birth in 2017 at the trust’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Hospital in Thanet. Many of the issues which came to light at his inquest echoed those from the RCOG report. Committee chair Des Holden, medical director of Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network, highlighted the difficulties in tracking evidence and action plans during a time when the trust had significant changes in leadership. But he said the committee felt cases where evidence could not be found or the standard of evidence gave concern, the recommendations could not be said to be met. Derek Richford, Harry’s grandfather, said on behalf of the family: “We are saddened and shocked to find that over four years after the RCOG found fundamental systemic failings and made 23 recommendations, only two have been completed. It is not good enough for them to now say ‘leadership has changed’. The main board must take responsibility and be held to account.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 July 2020
  4. News Article
    Parents of babies who died at a hospital trust at the centre of a maternity inquiry say a police investigation has come "too late". West Mercia Police said it was looking at whether there was "evidence to support a criminal case" at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust. An independent review, contacted by more than 1,000 families, said it was working with police to identify relevant cases. "It's bittersweet," one mother said. "It's come too late for my daughter, she should still be here," said Tasha Turner, whose baby, Esmai, died four days after she was born at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2013. Ms Turner's case is part of the Ockenden Review, an independent investigation into avoidable baby deaths at the trust, which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal. LaKamaljit Uppal, 50, from Telford, who is also part of the review following the death of her son Manpreet in April 2003 at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, said she hoped the police inquiry would bring some closure. "The trust put me through hell, someone should be held accountable," she said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 1 July 2020
  5. News Article
    Inspectors have raised “new and ongoing” patient safety concerns at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust, it has emerged. The Care Quality Commission has issued a new warning notice to the Midlands trust after an inspection of the hospital earlier this month sparked concerns for the welfare of patients on its medical wards. These concerns are separate from the trust’s maternity service, which, it was revealed on Tuesday, is now facing a police investigation alongside an NHS inquiry into more than 1,200 allegations of poor maternity care dating back to the 1970s. In October, a patient at the hospital bled to death after a device used to access his bloodstream became inexplicably disconnected while he was receiving care on the renal unit. The Health Service Journal reported the latest concerns related to the inappropriate use of bed rails and risks of patients falling from beds after several incidents. The CQC is also concerned about the trust’s use of powers to detain elderly or vulnerable patients on wards. The concerns also include patients being at risk of abuse and learning from past incidents not being shared with staff. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 July 2020
  6. News Article
    A hospital trust under the spotlight over avoidable baby deaths provided inadequate antenatal care, with inexperienced junior midwives working alone and doctors not always available to assess high risk women, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found. The latest CQC report on maternity services at East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust follows a report last month by the NHS Healthcare Services Investigation Branch on 24 maternity care investigations at the trust. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 28 May 2020
  7. News Article
    A hospital A&E department has been rated "inadequate" after inspectors found patients at "high risk of avoidable harm". The Care Quality Commission (CQC) reported a "range of regulation breaches" and a shortage of nurses at Stepping Hill hospital's A&E unit. It also criticised maternity and children's services. Stockport NHS Foundation Trust's chief executive said the trust had taken "immediate steps" to improve. The CQC inspected Stepping Hill Hospital in January and February and found A&E performance "had deteriorated significantly" since its last inspection in 2018. Inspectors found shortcomings "relating to patient-centred care, dignity and respect, safe care and treatment, environment and equipment, good governance, and staffing". Their report said the service "could not assure itself that staff were competent for their roles" and patient outcomes "were not always positive or met expectations in line with national standards". Read full story Source: BBC News, 19 May 2020
  8. News Article
    Concerns for the wellbeing of babies born in lockdown are being raised, as parents struggle to access regular support services. England's children's commissioner is highlighting pressures facing mothers caring for babies without the usual family and state support networks. Playgroups are closed and health visitor "visits" are being carried out remotely in most cases. The NHS said adaptations had been made to keep new mothers and babies safe. The briefing paper from Anne Longfield's office says an estimated 76,000 babies will have been born in England under lockdown so far. But births are not being registered, because of temporary rules tied to the virus pandemic, so even basic information about new babies is not being gathered. At the same time, support services provided by health visitors and GPs are not readily accessible, with many taking place via phone and video calls or not at all. There are concerns many babies may have missed their developmental health checks, due in the first few weeks of life to pick up urgent developmental needs. "In some areas, the six-week GP baby check hasn't been available or parents haven't wanted to attend it due to a potential risk of infection," she said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 7 May 2020
  9. News Article
    Pregnancy support helplines are experiencing a massive spike in distressed pregnant women asking for urgent help as charities warn coronavirus upheaval is placing pregnant women at risk. Frontline service providers warn mothers-to-be are anxious about whether they will be denied pain relief options and be separated from their newborn babies due to them being put in neonatal units. Birthrights, a maternity care charity, found enquiries to its advice line in March were up by 464 per cent in comparison to March last year. Women getting in touch also raised concerns about home birth services being withdrawn, midwifery-led birth centres shutting their doors and elective caesareans being discontinued due to the COVID-19 crisis. Baby charity Tommy’s experienced a 71% surge in demand for advice from midwives on its pregnancy helpline last month. The organisation warned coronavirus turmoil is placing pregnant women at risk after their midwives answered 514 urgent calls for help in April which is a sizeable rise from the 300 enquiries they would generally get. Jane Brewin, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Antenatal care is vital for the wellbeing of mother and baby – but the coronavirus outbreak means that many don’t know who they can ask for help, or don’t want to bother our busy and beloved NHS." “Although services are adapting, they are still running, so pregnant women should not hesitate to raise concerns with their midwife and go to appointments when invited. The large increase in people contacting us demonstrates that coronavirus is creating extra confusion and anxiety for parents-to-be, making midwives’ expert advice and support even more important at this time.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 5 May 2020
  10. Content Article
    Home births: a woman’s choice? Maternity services are rapidly adapting the way they work in light of the pandemic. Pregnant women are being asked to attend antenatal appointments alone or remotely in order to reduce risk of infection. In some areas, the option to have a midwife-led home birth has been suspended.[2] A recent report from the BBC suggests that as many as one third of Trusts could have removed home birth as an option.[3] For those who are not considered high-risk and have given birth before, home birth is often a very positive experience and clinical outcomes are good, with transfer rates to hospital and medical intervention very low among this group.[4] There is some evidence to suggest that more women are requesting to birth at home to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 while in hospital.[5] This will, of course, require the appropriate level of support midwives being available to enable this. Commenting on the role of midwife-led care during the pandemic, joint guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) states: “The positive impact of midwife-led birth settings is well documented, including reductions in the need for a range of medical interventions. These positive impacts remain of significant importance to prevent avoidable harm, and availability of midwife-led care settings for birth should therefore be continued as far as is possible during the pandemic.”[6] For some women though this option is now being taken off the table. Due to the pressures on services caused by the pandemic, the RCOG/RCM guidance also includes a framework to help maternity teams understand when and how they may need to suspend midwife-led services such as home births. In some areas of the UK, this is already happening and low-risk pregnant women are no longer being offered the full spectrum of birthing choices, as recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).[7] There doesn’t seem to be publicly available information on the extent of this service suspension. The guidance recommends a staged approach in responding to emerging issues with staff shortages and other service pressures during the pandemic. It states that decisions about when to implement each stage will need to be made at a local level based on current local data including: bed occupancy in the maternity unit(s) community workload sickness rate among midwifery staff (midwives, maternity support workers and senior student midwives) available midwifery staffing (including additional midwives from the NMC emergency register, those previously in non-clinical roles or year-3 student midwives) skill mix of available midwifery staffing – including level of seniority and experience in provision of community-based care availability of ambulances and trained paramedic staff, to provide emergency transfer. COVID-19 is therefore having the direct impact of reducing birthing options available to some pregnant women. Patient Safety Learning is concerned with the safety of mums and babies with this erosion of a woman’s right to choose the birth they want. We are hearing that: Some women have serious concerns and anxiety about attending hospital during the pandemic and how they and their babies are being protected from COVID-19. Suspension of services could have a major impact on women who are frightened to birth in a hospital setting due to past trauma. Low-risk women are not being offered a home birth service in some areas. Women are unclear as to why they cannot home birth; is it because there are safety concerns where midwife-led services were critically understaffed when responding to home births? We think there are risks to patient safety and that there are significant questions that need to be answered: Are Trusts able to evidence that their decision-making around the suspension of home births is appropriate and proportionate, particularly for low-risk women where evidence indicates good clinical outcomes? Are Trusts’ decisions to suspend home births (and the basis behind these decisions) being shared publicly with the women under their care? RCOG/RCM guidance gives advice on reinstating services and recommends suspensions be regularly reviewed. How regularly are these suspensions being reviewed? Is this information publicly available? What steps are being put in place to preserve midwife-led services for women and their babies, whose health outcomes may be adversely affected by these changes? Are the health outcomes of these women and babies being monitored and reported on? How are women being reassured and informed of their safety from COVID-19 in hospital maternity care? High-risk pregnancies Some pregnancies are deemed as ‘high-risk’ and these women often fall under the care of a consultant. High-risk women and their babies are more likely to need extra medical support that is unavailable in a midwife-led birth setting. They would usually be advised by to go to a hospital labour ward to have their baby where that clinical support is available if needed. We are hearing that there is the potential for the number of high-risk women requesting to have their baby at home to rise, due to fears around coronavirus. This has serious safety implications and raises further questions around the number of experienced staff (and home birth equipment) available to support these labours. Where home births have been suspended there is also the frightening potential for high-risk women who choose not to go to hospital, to labour without clinical support. The RCM has highlighted there is anecdotal evidence that more women are choosing to birth at home unassisted due to reduced birth options and midwives are becoming increasingly concerned at the safety implications of this.[8] Maria Booker, Programmes Director from Birthrights, a charity that protects human rights in childbirth, explained their concerns around restricted services: "We are concerned that more women will have an unassisted birth that they have not actively chosen to have, due to the withdrawal of home births and midwifery led birth centres in some areas, which may put themselves and their babies at risk. Trusts need to be very clear that they can justify these restrictions on services as a proportionate response to their current situation and to review these decisions frequently as circumstances change."[9] We think there are risks to patient safety and that there are significant questions need to be answered: Has there been an increase in high-risk women deciding to birth at home against clinical advice? Where home birth has been suspended, and a high-risk woman decides to birth at home against clinical advice, will she give birth without clinical assistance? Where there is an increase in women requesting to have their baby at home, are midwives (including those returning to the profession) receiving the right support? Do they have an adequate supply of home birth kit and PPE? Are there enough staff experienced and confident in supporting both low and high-risk women to labour at home? Safe births during the pandemic Maternity services are faced with the challenge of adapting within unfamiliar and unpredictable territory. However, it is important that pregnant women and their babies continue to access the safest care options. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution and the safety implications of blanket suspensions of home births, combined with a rising fear of hospitals, need due attention in order to protect mums and babies from suffering avoidable harm. Where Trusts take the decision to reduce birth options, these must be evidenced, proportionate and justifications must be made publicly available. References [1] BBC News, Coronavirus: Social restrictions ‘to remain for rest of year’, 22 April 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-52389285 [2] The Guardian, NHS trusts begin suspending home births due to coronavirus, 27 March 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/nhs-trusts-suspending-home-births-coronavirus; NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Lanarkshire restricts neonatal visiting and suspends home births, Friday 27 March 2020. https://www.nhslanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk/restricted-neonatal-visiting-suspended-home-births/; The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Covid-19 virus infection and pregnancy, Last Accessed 24 April 2020. http://thh.nhs.uk/services/women_babies/COVID-19_infection_pregnancy.php [3] BBC News, Coronavirus: Uncertainty over maternity care causing distress, 24 April 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52356067 [4] Birthplace in England Collaborative Group, Perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies: the Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study, BMJ, 2011; 343. https://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7400; National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies: Clinical guideline [CG190], Last Updated 21 February 2017. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/chapter/Recommendations#place-of-birth [5] Anonymous, Midwifery during COVID-19: A personal account, Patient Safety Learning the hub, 21 April 2020. https://www.pslhub.org/learn/coronavirus-covid19/273_blogs/midwifery-during-covid-19-a-personal-account-r2095/ [6] The Royal College of Midwifes and Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, Guidance for provision of midwife-led settings and home birth in the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 9 April 2020. https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3875/midiwfe-led-settings-and-guidance.pdf [7] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Intrapartum care: Quality Standard [QS105], Last Updated 28 February 2017. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs105/chapter/quality-statement-1-choosing-birth-setting [8] The Royal College of Midwifes and Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, Guidance for provision of midwife-led settings and home birth in the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 9 April 2020. https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3875/midiwfe-led-settings-and-guidance.pdf [9] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Intrapartum care: Quality Standard [QS105], Last Updated 28 February 2017. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs105/chapter/quality-statement-1-choosing-birth-setting
  11. News Article
    “Recurrent safety risks” around clinical care at an embattled NHS trust’s maternity service have been identified in a report published on Tuesday. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has been investigating East Kent hospitals university NHS foundation trust since July 2018 after a series of baby deaths. Among those treated at the trust was Harry Richford, whose death was “wholly avoidable”, seven days after his emergency delivery in November 2017, an inquest found. Speaking on Tuesday, Harry’s grandfather Derek Richford said it is clear that sufficient lessons were not learned from his death. The independent report, published on Tuesday by the Department of Health and Social Care, discusses 24 maternity investigations undertaken since July 2018, including the deaths of three babies and two mothers. It said: “These investigations have enabled HSIB to identify recurrent safety risks around several key themes of clinical care in the trust’s maternity services.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 April 2020
  12. Content Article
    This HSIB summary report provides an overview of: the referrals caseload under the maternity investigations programme for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust the themes which were identified as indicative of patient safety risk to mothers and babies the engagement and escalation process that HSIB undertook with the trust and the wider system in response.
  13. Content Article
    This report will set-out our family engagement process. It will also summarise the feedback received to date from the families who have been involved in HSIB investigations. The purpose is to for HSIB to share their family engagement process with other healthcare organisations involved in patient safety investigations and raise awareness of the value of an effective family engagement process in such investigations. The report will: Describe HSIB’s approach to family engagement in our investigations and what has informed our practice. Describe what has worked well in our approach to family engagement. Summarise what families and staff tell us about our approach. Explain what we have learned and plans for future work.