Wishaw General Hospital 'cleared' over baby deaths

An independent review into the deaths of three babies has cleared a Lanarkshire hospital of any failures.

The review was ordered over allegations in the media that short-staffing at Wishaw General neo-natal unit had led to the deaths in 2013 and 2014.

It concluded that there was no evidence that inadequate staffing had contributed towards the babies' deaths.

The report said staff were sometimes stressed but the babies had received a high standard of care.

The report was ordered by the chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire following newspaper reports earlier this year carrying allegations about staffing levels at Wishaw General neo-natal unit.

The report noted that during the period when the babies died, there was "no epidemic of infection" at the hospital.

'Contributory factor'

It said infection control and hygiene measures in place were of a high standard.

The report noted that premature babies were at risk of developing infections and some do not survive.

It stated that although infection "was a contributory factor in all three" deaths, the babies were "managed to a high clinical standard".

Following publication of the report, NHS Lanarkshire director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, Rosemary Lyness, said the health board would "listen and act" on the feedback it had been given.

"The review team has confirmed that good infection control practices are in place in the unit and that the nurse staffing establishment is in line with the national recommended levels and indeed exceeds the recommended nursing skill mix," she said.

"We recognise, however, that there have been occasions of high activity which has coincided with high sickness levels and a number of vacancies, which has put the service under pressure.

'Public reassurance'

"The recommendations within the report identify a number of areas which we will explore further to minimise the impact of peaks of activity."

The independent review made a total of 23 recommendations.

Noting occasional pressures on staffing, it said the recruitment of specialised nurses and consultants should be prioritised.

Dr Sam Ibhanesebhor, clinical lead for Wishaw General neo-natal unit, said: "Our staff are fully committed to providing safe, high quality care to babies and their families and recognition of this commitment is reflected in the report which I hope will provide public reassurance.

"The review team observed that we have 'an exceptional commitment' towards collaborative working to continuously quality assess standards of care to our newborns and their families.

"This reflects the dedication of our staff who strive to provide highest possible standards of care at all times."

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