A damning report is due to be published today following a review of the Care Quality Commission's response to complaints about several deaths of newborn babies at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria. It is expected to be revealed that the healthcare regulator in England may have ‘deliberately’ covered up knowledge of its own failings.
In 2008, nine-day-old Joshua Titcombe died from a treatable infection after being born in the maternity ward of Furness General Hospital. His death, and those of three other babies and two mothers, led to growing concerns about care standards and prompted a complaint to the CQC.
Dozens of families have pursued clinical negligence claims against Furness General Hospital relating to baby and maternal deaths and injuries. A police investigation into the death of Joshua Titcombe at the hospital is continuing.
The CQC admits giving ‘false assurances to the public’ in 2010 but said there was no evidence of a cover-up. CQC chairman David Prior admits ‘What happened in the past was wholly unacceptable […] The report confirms our view that at a senior level the organisation was dysfunctional. The board and the senior executive team have been radically changed.’
The trust has said that, given the ongoing investigation, it would be ‘inappropriate to comment on individual cases’ but there was ‘no denying that the trust has let women and their families down in the past’ and that a new trust board was ‘determined to learn from it’.
Guy Forster, medical negligence lawyer at Penningtons Solicitors LLP, comments: “We desperately hope that all the families affected by the failures of the trust and the regulator get the answers that they need and that this opportunity to learn from past mistakes is not wasted. The report reminds us that these problems are not isolated to Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust; there must be a full commitment to implement the recommendations of the Francis report to work towards making these failures a thing of the past.”