Call for Scottish maternity units safety inquiry

Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock Image copyright Elliot Simpson/Geograph
Image caption Six cases of so-called "avoidable deaths" have taken place at Crosshouse Hospital over the past eight years

A patient campaign group has written to the first minister calling for a public inquiry into the safety of Scottish maternity units.

The group, ASAP-NHS, said mothers and babies had been harmed by a failure to implement UK-wide health and safety legislation in Scotland.

A BBC investigation revealed what were described as the "unnecessary" deaths of six babies at Crosshouse Hospital.

The Scottish government said some of the campaigners' claims were wrong.

The final report of a review - ordered by Health Secretary Shona Robison - into the baby deaths at the Kilmarnock hospital is due to be published soon.

Families involved heard the key findings of the review last week , with some saying they were "disappointed" by the report which included recommendations for improvements within NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Image copyright Thinkstock

They were also told the final version of the report from Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), expected to be made public later this month, is to include national recommendations for better training in maternity services.

The letter from ASAP-NHS (Action for a Safe and Accountable People's NHS) to Nicola Sturgeon requests a public inquiry and immediate action "to secure the safety of mothers and babies in the care of Scottish maternity units".

It said: "Currently, the approach of the Scottish government to the safety of babies and mothers, fails to meet the UK-wide statutory requirements. Presently, the Scottish government operates a healthcare service, which is unregulated; that in itself, is a breach of statutory law."

'Room for improvement'

The group said it had provided the Scottish government with three reports it has compiled "based on extensive evidence" that supported its calls for action and an inquiry.

Responding to the letter, Ms Robison said: ‎"The safety of mothers and their babies is of paramount importance.

"At the heart of any incident is a family that is suffering from pain or loss, which is why we must do everything we can to mitigate against similar incidents happening again.‎

"We have a number of initiatives already in place to get to the root of these problems and upgrade that service, but clearly there is still room for improvement.

"However, some of the claims being made are clearly wrong and without foundation, so we will be focusing on areas for change which can make a genuine difference."

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