Sunday, 07 February 2016

BBC Panorama shines fresh spotlight on Furness General Hospital failings welcomed

GRIEVING families hope the heartache of hearing their stories told on national television will help raise awareness over the need for further investigation into failings at Furness General Hospital.

The BBC’s Panorama: How Safe is Your Hospital? episode focused on the scandals surrounding Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and wider implications and problems affecting the health service across the country.

Aired on Monday (3) evening, the programme documented the issues in Barrow’s maternity services dating back more than four years, and featured bereaved Dalton dad, James Titcombe.

He and his wife, Hoa, lost baby Joshua on November 5, 2008, nine days after his birth at FGH.

During the interview, Mr Titcombe’s eyes filled with tears as he described his son’s short life and raised questions over the actions of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and the watchdogs regulating it.

Yesterday he said: “The Panorama programme was only able to give a brief overview of what happened at Morecambe Bay, but it did highlight important issues affecting patient safety both locally and across the NHS.

“Anything that helps raise awareness of the need for a public inquiry into what happened, and how regulators allowed it to happen, is a step in the right direction.

“I’m very aware that this issue goes far wider than just Joshua, and my heart goes out to all the families who’ve been affected.

“Every single one deserves the truth, without which there is no guarantee that lessons will be learned to prevent such
circumstances happening again.”

Panorama reporter, Declan Lawn, described how problems at UHMBT continued for years after Joshua’s death, up to November 2011, when the trust was shown to have the worst mortality rates in England.

The programme told how health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, has launched an independent review into its dealings with UHMBT after it was revealed it granted the trust licence to operate despite serious concerns having been raised within its ranks.

And it reported how, just three weeks before Joshua’s death, following the loss of baby Alex Davey-Brady at FGH, a consultant wrote: “This has happened in our unit in the past... if we don’t take appropriate precautions and positive steps, I am sure this is going to happen again in the future.”

Alex was classed as stillborn, but an inquest found a number of problems with how his birth was handled.

His parents, Walney couple Liza Brady and Simon Davey, are among families tirelessly backing an online petition launched by national charity, Action Against Medical Accidents, for an independent investigation into failings at UHMBT.

After seeing the Panorama episode, which featured AvMA chief executive, Peter Walsh, Mrs Brady said: “It is very hard to watch.

“But, more than anything, it makes our push to expose everything, every problem – not just in our trust but all over the country – more important.

“It needs to be blown wide open so the whole NHS can learn from what’s happened.”

Commenting on the issues covered in Monday’s Panorama, UHMBT interim chairman, Sir David Henshaw, said: “This trust has let mothers and babies down and the care received at Furness General Hospital was simply not good enough.

“Over the last 12 months, the trust has faced some significant issues which resulted in a number of reviews, reports and inspection visits from our regulators, the Care Quality Commission and Monitor.

“Following the formal intervention by the regulators, the trust now has a new board and has made recognised progress in ensuring that services are safe and standards of care continually improve.

“The safety of our patients is and must always be our priority.”


September 2008
Alex Davey-Brady is born at FGH. He is classed as stillborn, having been asphyxiated as the umbilical cord was tight around his neck. An inquest finds doctors and midwives had not worked together well enough, Mrs Brady was not monitored properly and efforts could have been made to get Alex out sooner.

November 2008
Joshua Titcombe dies in a Newcastle hospital, nine days after being born at FGH. Midwives failed to detect an infection treatable with antibiotics. The CQC gives UMBHT’s maternity services a “red” internal risk rating, based on the results of investigations conducted into Joshua’s death.

August 2010
An independent review into maternity services at FGH and Royal Lancaster Infirmary, commissioned by the trust, is published. The Fielding report claims relationships between doctors and midwives were “dysfunctional”, staff faced an atmosphere which may have embodied a “blame culture” and said FGH labour ward facilities were not “entirely fit for purpose”.

October 2010
Improvements to maternity reduce its risk rating to “amber”.

June 2011
An inquest into Joshua Titcombe’s death is held, the coroner pinpointing 10 key failings in Joshua’s care. He also accuses midwives of “colluding” with each other over mistakes made. Cumbria police confirms a police investigation had been launched into Joshua’s death before the inquest began.

July 2011
The CQC carries out unannounced inspections of maternity services at FGH and Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

September 2011
The CQC warns maternity services at FGH could close if they are not brought up to scratch, after July’s inspection found the hospital was failing to meet essential standards in six key areas. Police confirm they have extended their investigation to involve “a number” of deaths at FGH.

October 2011
Government health watchdog, Monitor, orders top-level reviews into maternity and governance at FGH to ensure patient safety. UHMBT is served with a statutory notice of intervention by the regulator.

November 2011
UHMBT says it is confident it has carried out all of the actions identified in September’s CQC report on maternity services. Dr Foster reveals UHMBT has the worst mortality rate in England. The guide gave the trust a hospital standardised mortality ratio – which measures in-hospital deaths – of 124 for this year. Anything above 100 is usually a cause for concern.

January 2012
The CCQ announces it is to carry out another investigation, this time into emergency care provision at UHMBT.

February 2012
The CQC issues a further warning notice following a series of visits to UHMBT emergency departments. Government regulator Monitor issues three damning reports on UHMBT, relating to FGH maternity services, the Barrow hospital’s outpatients appointments system and the trust’s governance. The regulator claims mothers and babies are still being put at risk at FGH despite bosses’ assurances that services have improved.

March 2012
The CQC issues UHMBT with two fresh warning notices over its monitoring of patients and mixed sex accommodation.

June 2012
The CQC issues a damning report following its investigation into emergency care at FGH and the RLI. The key findings go beyond problems in emergency care, and the health regulator says there will be another review in six months.

August 2012
The CQC carries out unannounced inspections of maternity at FGH and the RLI to check on follow-up actions taken after its report in September 2011.

September 2012
A subsequent report finds both units are meeting all essential safety and quality standards.

October 2012
Another CQC report, published following August’s inspections, finds essential safety and quality standards are being met in emergency care at both hospitals.

Have your say

'Suggestion' is being a little unfair. People are obliged to keep going to UHMB for medical care because it's a long way to Carlisle, Preston or Blackburn. As for the 'pointless comments', you might recall that if Titcombe, the Coroner and others had not kept harping on and on about the problems UHMB would have kept covering up the lot- including the 'out patients disaster' which affected 19,000 patients etc. and Halsall, Kane, Dyer etc. would still be there saying that everything is fine and they are being 'totally open and honest'. They don't sack most of the Board of Directors because a few people don't like the food or the paint on the walls.

Posted by WilliamT on 8 December 2012 at 12:53

Suggestion,"how many of you are sat on here making pointless comments yet return time after time to uhmb for care either for yourself or your family? all you hear is one sided stories from patients as the trust can rarely publish the full details of complaints/investigations due to confidentiality.
How about the evening mail run a cover story for the dept responsible for safety." Exactly what choice to people have in an emergency but to rely on their local hospital to provide adequate care? As it happens I relied on the Trusts responses following a complaint(3yrs for some answers)only to be faced with the same 'shortfalls' again, I have also witnessed excellent care for which I am extremely grateful however it should never be a lottery. With regards to your comment regarding one sided stories from patients, a public inquiry would be an ideal opportunity for the Trust to open up.

Posted by Chris McIlgorm on 7 December 2012 at 21:50

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