Shropshire hospitals recruiting maternity staff and 'toughens' procedures

The trust which runs Shropshire's two main hospitals is in the process of recruiting additional staff in its maternity services and has toughened its processes for dealing with serious incidents, a new committee has heard.

Safety, maternal deaths and action being taken in the neonatal service were under the spotlight at the second meeting of the Ockenden report assurance committee, which has been created to oversee required improvements at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital.

Its members include representatives from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Maternity Voices Partnership, the region's clinical commissioning group and Healthwatch.

During an online meeting yesterday, the committee also heard that plans are being explored to broaden the number of organisations working together to try and improve maternity services locally.

Dr Mei-See Hon, clinical director for maternity services, said membership of the current Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) is being reviewed, with a view to joining a larger LMNS.

Currently, it involves SaTH, the CCG and other organisations working together to design and implement improvements in maternity and neonatal services.

The meeting heard this would mean involving more organisations in the monitoring and scrutinising of maternity services.

Mei See Hon, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Princess Royal Hospital

SaTH's chief executive Louise Barnett said: "We fully agree with this action in terms of broadening out the membership of the LMNS.

"That would give a far richer picture of what is happening across maternity services in detail that colleagues could talk about as opposed to just really examining what you're doing back at base.

"We want that challenge and broader view being taken and the opportunities to actually learn and discuss best practice and things we could all do differently together."

Martyn Underwood, divisional medical director for women and children, said any potential serious incidents were also reviewed within 72 hours; experts from outside the trust are able to have a say and processes had been significantly strengthened over the past six months.

Dr Hon said the trust has revised its procedures for situations where consultants must be in attendance over the past six months and a rigorous induction process has been put in place when taking on doctors.

The meeting was also told that the trust is recruiting staff in order to be able to provide 24/7 consultant attendance on the labour ward.

Dr Wendy Tyler, consultant neonatologist, gave the committee an overview of the work taking place around neonatal services.

Electronic records

She said the ability to bring together mother and baby notes electronically would make systems easier and safer.

The trust is due to roll out an electronic record system later this year.

Dr Tyler said a business case had also been approved for additional senior clinicians to increase the level of clinical presence on the neonatal unit, however procedures are already in place if issues need to be raised with an on-call consultant.

She said it would involve the appointment of two new advanced neonatal nurse practitioners and advanced care practitioners.

The assurance committee has been created following initial findings of the Ockenden inquiry which is looking into more than 1,800 cases of alleged poor care and baby deaths at SaTH – which has risen from 23 when the inquiry launched in 2017.

In December, the review identified 27 local actions needed to improve the county’s maternity services, as well as seven which are recommended for across England.

It detailed a lengthy list of failings in care at the trust, drawing some harrowing conclusions about the experiences of families involved in the review.

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