BBC Panorama Found Issues Were ‘Buried’ In Reports
Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are calling for urgent improvements in maternity services after an investigation found more than 100 reports identifying serious patient safety concerns were never published.
An investigation, undertaken by BBC Panorama, revealed the issues were being “buried in confidential hospital reports” despite the NHS Trusts having a duty to share the information.
Among the 111 unpublished reports found was a review of Doncaster Royal Infirmary undertaken by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2016. Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Doncaster Royal Infirmary, had asked for the review to be carried out following a ‘number of serious clinical incidents’, reports the BBC.
Some of the concerns highlighted were a lack of appropriate leadership, patient safety concerns around the lack of availability of consultants, and the undermining of staff mainly but not exclusively within midwifery. The report, however, was never published.
Irwin Mitchell represents hundreds of families affected by issues in maternity cares. This includes the Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals scandal where the Ockenden review is investigating more than 1,800 incidents of maternity deaths as well as injuries to babies and mums.
The law firm is campaigning to improve maternity services across the country and has also contributed to the Health Committee’s Maternity Safety Call for Evidence.
Expert Opinion“We’re deeply concerned by the findings of this latest investigation. It’s worrying enough that serious safety issues appear to have been found within hospital trusts, but for the findings to be kept secret and go unpublished is unacceptable.
That trusts appear not to have been sharing reports, not just on one occasion, but more than 100 times indicates urgent improvements are needed.
While patient safety should be the fundamental priority in all care, sadly mistakes do happen. When they do transparency is key in ensuring lessons are actually learned and public confidence in the NHS is upheld.
We’ve seen maternity scandals over recent years which have highlighted the importance of implementing change. The findings of this investigation also underline the need to work with families who have faced unbearable pain to improve patient safety.”
Sarah Coles - Partner
The findings of the BBC’s investigation were based on data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. It follows maternity scandals in recent years. In 2015, 11 babies and a mother died in Morecambe Bay after an earlier review into the hospital had identified issues but not been published.
In 2017, an investigation was ordered into baby deaths under Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust by then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. By July 2020, there were more than 1,800 cases under review.