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Sam Critchley welcomes RCM response to Ockenden Review to improve care for mothers and babies

Responding to devastating criticism of maternity services in the Ockenden Inquiry following the baby deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has launched the first instalment of a new safety series to improve the quality of maternity services in UK hospitals. The guidance as part of the Solution Series will be issued monthly to midwives from May to November this year.

The RCM is reacting to recommendations in the Ockenden review that lessons must be learnt from failed and successful maternity services to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated, and that good practice is widely shared.

Its latest guidance will focus on interpreting electronic fetal monitoring, leadership, creating a positive work culture and developing systems for proper investigation following catastrophic mistakes so, at the very least, they won't happen again.

Commenting on the RCM website, Dr Mary Ross Davie, Director for Professional Midwifery, admitted that the Inquiry had highlighted 'worryingly similar serious failings' in maternity care.

Dealing with the aftermath of maternity negligence, the medical negligence solicitors at Fieldfisher know all too well that the same errors in misreading or misinterpreting fetal monitoring leads to the worst tragedy when a baby is stillborn or suffers oxygen deprivation leading to cerebral palsy because maternity staff have not recognised fetal distress. Too many admissions of liability in our cases include the acknowledgement that had the baby been delivered earlier, they would not have sustained their life-changing injuries or been stillborn.

In our experience, this type of negligence comes down to lack of training, insufficient staffing levels and poor communication between members of the maternity team.

As it attempts to rebuild the public's trust in maternity services in our hospitals, so badly damaged by failings at Shrewsbury and Telford and Morecambe Bay in particular, the RCM rightly highlights that safe staffing is the basis of any maternity service to provide consistently safe, high quality maternity care.

The medical negligence team supports any initiative from the RCM to improve patient safety and sincerely hopes this response brings some comfort to clients who live with the aftermath of failings in care in that other families will not suffer similar tragedy.

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