Damning report into Nursing and Midwifery Council following Furness General scandal

Maricruz Casares
May 17, 2018

An inquiry in 2015 blamed a "lethal mix" of failures at the hospital, part of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, including midwives obsessed with natural childbirth.

Eleven babies and one mother died at Furness General Hospital in Barrow, Cumbria, between 2004 and 2013.

Failing to engage with information provided by Cumbria police, in particular, a list of cases provided by the police that was ignored for nearly two years.

The midwifery regulator took too long to act on concerns about midwives at a hospital resulting in "avoidable deaths", a report has concluded.

The NMC apologised in the wake of Wednesday's report, calling its handling of the scandal "unacceptable".

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) Lessons Learned review criticised the NMC for taking up to eight years to begin fitness to practise hearings against a number of midwives after concerns were raised.

Concerns about the hospital were first raised following the death of nine-day-old Joshua Titcombe in 2008, who was suffering from sepsis.

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No prosecutions were brought by police, but three midwives were subsequently struck off and a fourth was suspended following the deaths at the hospital.

In a joint statement, Liza Brady, Carl Hendrickson and James Titcombe, who were affected by the deaths, said the report showed "the truly shocking scale of the NMC's failure to respond properly to the serious concerns and detailed information provided to them relating to the safety of midwifery services at Furness General Hospital".

The Review recognises that the NMC has made many changes and improvements since 2014, but concludes that there are two significant areas requiring additional, urgent work: the NMC's approach to the value of evidence from and communication with patients; and its commitment in practice to transparency.

The NMC welcomed the publication of the review, with outgoing chief executive Jackie Smith claiming that the NMC's approach was "unacceptable".

Harry Cayton from the Professional Standards Authority, which published the report, says progress still needs to be made, whilst John Woodcock, the Barrow and Furness MP, has also levelled criticism at the NCM.

"We take the findings of this review extremely seriously and we're committed to improving the way we communicate with families, witnesses and all those involved in the fitness to practise process".

Explaining that the NMC had made "significant changes" since 2014, Smith admitted that there is "much more to do".

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