Despite promises from health ministers over the years to prioritise improvements to maternity safety in NHS hospitals, the number of avoidable tragedies involving substandard care remains critical.
The number of baby deaths has fallen over the past decade, but 5,000 babies a year in the UK are stillborn or die before they are a month old, more than in other Western countries.
Now the news emerges that NHS hospitals have made false claims about the safety in their maternity units to take advantage of an incentive scheme launched by NHS Resolution in 2018. The scheme focused on 10 key safety areas in maternity, include ensuring systems are in place to review deaths, monitor women and plan staffing levels and reporting incidents to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch which investigates maternity incidents in the NHS.
Seven NHS trusts, including those at the centre of ongoing care scandals, must now pay back money awarded to them after self-assessments of their maternity services were found to be false.
The Trusts discovered to be at fault include the beleaguered Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, East Kent Hospitals University Trust, currently facing inquiry into baby deaths and a criminal prosecution by the Care Quality Commission, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, criticised by a coroner last year following the death of baby Wynter Andrews, and University Hospitals Birmingham.
Three further trusts expected to have to repay money after safety concerns were raised by the Care Quality Commission include North West Anglia Foundation Trust, West Suffolk Foundation Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust.
Particularly at the moment, faith and trust in the NHS is essential. It is devastating to hear that the hospital Trusts mentioned above continue to fail mothers and babies and are covering up failings to secure vital funds that should be provided to those Trusts which deserve additional support.
Our current maternity negligence cases against NHS Trusts listed for criticism:
Mark Bowman, against Hinchingbrooke Hospital, part of the North West Anglia Trust
Paul McNeil, against Queens Hospital, part of the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust
Arti Shah, three cases against Nottingham University Hospitals Trust: one stillbirth, one baby brain-injured and one involving injury to the mother during maternity care.
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