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Following a number of baby deaths, The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust must now report weekly to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in order to ensure that steps are actively being taken to improve the quality of care provided and to help minimise the potential for future medical negligence claims.
Following inspections of the hospitals in August the CQC became alarmed about the trust’s maternity and emergency departments at both The Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and enforcement action has been taken to ensure patient safety is not compromised.
The inspections cited a number of concerns including the trust’s guidelines with regards to reduced foetal movements in its maternity department. The trust’s maternity services have already been scrutinised following an independent review into a series of baby deaths at the hospital. It is now understood that more than 40 separate cases are being investigated due to a high number of birth injuries or baby deaths. The investigation will look at whether a different outcome would have occurred should a different level of care have been provided, prompting concerns over the level of midwife negligence that has taken place in recent years at the two hospitals. It is unknown what the impact has been on the number of birth injury claims pursued as a result.
The review on birth injuries and deaths has highlighted that many women were pushed or felt pressured to have a natural birth when a caesarean may have been required. In some instances, there were delays in monitoring the mother and baby’s well-being which led to serious conditions being identified late.
The inspections also highlighted concerns with the two hospitals’ emergency departments, particularly in relation to the treatment and diagnosis of sepsis. Sepsis is a serious condition, which without rapid diagnosis and treatment can be fatal.
The enforcement action by the CQC means that the trust has to report weekly with regards to the steps that are being taken to improve the level of care provided and to ensure patients are safe. If the CQC remains unsatisfied with the improvements it does have the power to close or suspend departments, although this is a rare measure and very much a last resort as it may put pressure on other local trusts. It is unknown what impact the latest measures by the CQC will have on reducing the number of hospital negligence claims.
Commenting on the current enforcement actions, Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said:
“We remain very concerned about the emergency department and maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust as a result of our inspections. This is why we have imposed urgent conditions on the trust’s registration to safeguard patients.”
It is believed that the enforcement action will remain in place until the CQC are satisfied that patient care is no longer being compromised in both the maternity and emergency departments of the hospitals.