Staff suspended at Morecambe bay NHS Trust

Furness General Hospital which is one of the two hospitals under review by the health inspectors
Image caption Liza Brady's son died at Furness General Hospital in 2008

A senior employee at a health trust being investigated over mother and baby deaths has been suspended over an alleged attempt to influence a coroner.

The move came after discussions took place over how to dissuade a coroner from holding an inquest into the death of a baby at Furness General Hospital.

In a separate move, two midwives at the hospital have also been suspended.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust said both incidents were being treated "extremely seriously".

The senior member of staff was suspended after extracts of an internal trust email were made public by the mother of Alex Davey Brady, who was stillborn at Furness General in 2008.

Liza Brady obtained a number of documents relating to her son's death under data protection legislation.

In one email, the head of legal services at the trust Ranu Rowan wrote to Tony Halsall, the-then chief executive.

The email, written in 2009, was to ensure Mr Halsall was happy with a letter being sent to South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith "in the hope it may nudge him away from holding an inquest, as we discussed".

Mrs Rowan was unavailable for comment.

'Appalled and disgusted'

Mr Halsall stepped down as chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust in February 2012.

Mrs Brady said she was "appalled and disgusted" at the email.

Image caption Mr Halsall stepped down as chief executive in 2012

In a statement David Wilkinson, the trust's director of workforce and organisational development, said: "I offer my sincere apologies for any further upset or concern caused by this email.

"We have taken the decision to precautionary suspend a current member of staff involved. This isn't to apportion or infer blame, but to allow an investigation to be conducted to establish the facts."

In a separate move the trust has also suspended two midwives.

Mr Wilkinson said: "I can confirm that two midwives who work at Furness General Hospital are under precautionary suspension whilst a matter which has recently arisen is investigated further.

"It is not appropriate to disclose further details at this stage, other than to state the trust will uphold the duty of candour and ensure the appropriate people are kept informed."

The trust is the subject of several inquiries, including a police investigation, following a number of mother and baby deaths at Furness General.