NHS midwife supervision 'failures must be held to account'

Joshua Titcombe
Image caption Joshua Titcombe was nine days old when he died

The families of babies who died amid failings at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria have called for those responsible to be "held to account".

A report by the Health Service Ombudsman found that poor supervision of midwives led to the deaths of three babies and a mother in 2008.

The families made multiple complaints to the Strategic Health Authority before an investigation began.

NHS England has apologised and said changes had been implemented.

'Not fit for purpose'

The statement was issued by Liza Brady and Simon Davey, whose son Alex was stillborn after midwives failed to raise concerns and involve more senior doctors; Carl Hendrickson, whose wife Nittaya and son Chester died and James Titcombe, whose son Joshua died.

A report by the Health Service Ombudsman found that midwives were not supervised properly during the births and recommended that the NHS make improvements to the way midwives are supervised.

The statement said the families "welcomed" the recommendations and hoped the findings "will make maternity services in the UK safer for other mothers and babies in the future".

The statement said: "Today's report shows just how dangerous the wrong type of leadership can be in the NHS.

"We have to point out, however, that it took five complaints to the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), a complaint to the Ombudsman which was rejected, a further review by the Ombudsman which again rejected the complaint and then finally the threat of judicial review and complaints from two other families before an investigation into these issues was eventually opened."

They claim the "Ombudsman service at the time was not fit for purpose" and "it should not have taken so many years for these issues to come to light".

NHS England has apologised for "the distress caused" and said many of the improvements called for in the report has been implemented.

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