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MPs have launched a new inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England amid what it described as “recurrent failings” in the care of mothers and babies.
The Health and Social Care Committee is set to examine evidence relating to ongoing concerns at maternity services in the country and explore what action is needed to establish a safer culture.
As part of the inquiry, the committee will look into incidents at East Kent Hospitals University Trust, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, and the subsequent investigations that were carried out.
However, the committee stressed that the purpose of this work was not to re-examine previous or ongoing investigations, or to make judgements on individual cases or particular hospitals.
Instead, it is seeking to establish what the impact has been of past work aimed at improving maternity safety and the extent to which recommendations and reviews from such work are being implemented.
MPs are also looking to uncover how effective the training and support offered to maternity staff is and what improvements could be made in this area to make services safer.
“The safety of our maternity services continues to be a matter of concern”
In addition, they will consider whether clinical negligence and litigation processes need to be changed and the extent to which medical advice and decision-making is affected by a fear of the “blame culture”.
The committee wants to hear about the advice, guidance and practice on the choices to pregnant women about their birthing experience.
The role and work of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch in boosting the safety of maternity services, and the collection and analysis of data on maternity safety, will also be explored.
Health and Social Care Committee chair Jeremy Hunt (pictured above) said: “The death of a baby when something goes wrong is a tragedy for a family.
“When we’ve seen a pattern of baby deaths, we must be confident that failings that contributed to them have been addressed and lessons learned.
“However, the safety of our maternity services continues to be a matter of concern.”
Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is a tragedy when things go wrong for women, babies and their families, but it is a positive step to talk about failures and find out why they happen.
“We must strive to learn from these terrible events so that we can do everything in our power to stop them happening again.
“We have also got to learn when things are being done well and share that experience and knowledge.”
She added: “Delivering the safest possible care must be the fundamental basis of everything health professionals do.
“They also need the support of the government and healthcare commissioners to ensure staff and services are properly resourced.”
The Health and Social Care Committee is seeking seeking evidence and is welcoming written submissions until Friday 4 September.