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Maternity services at Northwick Park Hospital, ran by London North West University Healthcare Trust have been downgraded by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to Inadequate – the lowest grading possible over concerns for the safety of mother and babies. It is unknown as to how many birth injury claims occurred as a result.
The inspection by the CQC followed concerns over the number of serious incidents reported by the hospital, which included 8 baby deaths over a five-week period. Due to the abnormally high numbers an external review has been commissioned.
During their inspection, the CQC established that there were not enough staff with the right qualifications, skills or training to keep women safe from avoidable harm. This included junior staff being asked to step up and take on additional responsibilities without sufficient training. Staff at the hospital also reported being unable to take their lunch breaks due to a lack of staffing. This meant that they were often overworked and posed a risk to patient safety. Birth injury compensation may be sought when avoidable errors have resulted in the suffering of mother or baby.
The inspection found that communication between multidisciplinary teams was not efficient and that key information such as bed capacity issues, could easily have been missed off in handovers at the end of a shift. Additionally, it highlighted that staff feared raising issues and speaking out as they had been asked to only say positive things if asked by the inspectors. There was also a culture of bullying still during the recent inspection, a matter which had previously been raised by the CQC in 2018 and 2019. It is also thought that this poor culture lead to a high staff turnover and vacancy rate. These issues can all have a direct impact on the quality of care a patient receives and where this falls significantly below the level that is expected, then birth injury compensation claims may follow.
London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust have been issued with a number of actions to follow up on to improve the care provided by the maternity services at Northwick Park Hospital. It is unknown as to how many affected families are seeking the specialist advice of a birth injury solicitor. However, the recent report from CQC follows a number of others, raising concerns over the quality of care provided in maternity units across the country and Northwick Park Hospital is the fourth hospital in less than a month to have its maternity department downgraded.
If you have recently given birth at Northwick Park Hospital or were cared for during your pregnancy by the hospital, you may have questions regarding the quality of your care. Blackwater Law are specialist birth injury solicitors with comprehensive experience in managing birth injury and injury to mother claims.