Cwm Taf maternity review orders immediate safety action

Pregnant woman Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Staff were praised for their hard work, especially in supporting families

Hospital managers have been ordered to make immediate improvements to ensure maternity services are safe, after inspectors started a review.

A number of "immediate quality and safety concerns" were found at Cwm Taf health board last week.

It is part of an investigation into "adverse outcomes" for 43 babies born over two years.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said Cwm Taf took action before last weekend on some of the issues.

He added: "We expect them to put other actions in place as a matter of urgency".

Issues raised included improving rota arrangements, strengthening escalation processes and more support for trainees.

Allison Williams, Cwm Taf chief executive, said: "We take our responsibilities for patients extremely seriously and are determined to do everything necessary to deliver a high quality maternity service that provides safe and effective care."

Maternity services in the health board are currently split between Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.

The health board said it has now brought forward changes to the admission criteria for the neo-natal unit at the Royal Glamorgan from 28 weeks to 32 weeks, originally planned to coincide with the move of services to Prince Charles later this spring.

Mr Gething said the review team from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives spent three days speaking with families and staff.

He said initial feedback from the review identified a number of "immediate" quality and safety concerns.

"As a matter of urgency we have agreed a number of actions with the royal colleges and Cwm Taf to make immediate improvements to ensure the safety of maternity services," he added.

Image caption Vaughan Gething said he has been given assurance that "clear, immediate actions are in place"

Work so far is focusing on midwife and obstetric staffing levels - with the health board insisting that these are safe - strong clinical leadership and improved governance.

"The safety and wellbeing of mothers and babies receiving maternity services at Cwm Taf remains our primary focus," said Mr Gething.

"As a parent myself, I understand the concern and anxiety that this will have caused parents who are currently using, and those who have previously used these services. I am absolutely committed to ensuring that the review findings provide improvements in service provision as recommended by the review team."

The review - announced last October - includes looking at 20 stillbirths and six cases of babies, who died shortly after birth. It is due to report back in the spring but initial findings were given to the Welsh Government last week and some were so serious they needed immediate attention.

Enhanced monitoring for the health board was also announced earlier this month.

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Minister for Health Angela Burns AM, said that the review had "opened a can of worms at Cwm Taf."

"As the scale of the issue starts to unravel we will see just how profound the issues are within this health board, and it is completely indicative of the state of the wider NHS in Wales with several other major hospitals spending time in a state of emergency," she said.

"This is not a sustainable and safe way of running our NHS, and whilst I'm glad that inspectors are in place before the situation deteriorates, I am fearful to what other issues will come out from under the carpet."

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