Legal Action Taken over Deaths due to Poor Care

  • Families of those who have suffered baby and maternal deaths and injuries due to poor care at a Cumbrian hospital are taking legal action.

    Over 30 families have been let down by the poor care and medical negligence at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria.

    Parents also allege that important reports were suppressed in the run-up to the local NHS trust achieving foundation trust status in March 2010.

    The trust said there was "no denying" families were let down in the past.

    The hospital is at the centre of the scandal which is now the subject of a number of investigations including a police inquiry.

    Since June 2011, a team of 15 detectives have been investigating a number of deaths at the hospital.

    Parents and NHS staff have been interviewed and the BBC understands that police are looking into the possibility of bringing corporate manslaughter charges against the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation NHS Trust.

    James Titcombe, a nuclear engineer living near Barrow-in-Furness, told the BBC how he watched his son Joshua die at just nine days old in November 2008.

    Mr Titcombe and his wife, Hua, are one of five sets of parents to have settled their claim with the trust.

    Mr Titcombe described how and his wife watched helplessly as Joshua died from sepsis, a form of internal bleeding:

    We asked repeatedly if Joshua should have antibiotics and we were told 'No, he didn't.

    He was wheezing and he wasn't feeding properly and my wife called the emergency bell because he was grunting.

    And every time we were told Joshua was fine and that there was nothing to worry about. At no stage was a doctor ever called.

    Joshua's progress chart went missing, never to re-emerge and the coroner later said there was a suspicion that it may have been deliberately destroyed.

    The coroner heard that midwives and medical staff made 10 serious errors that contributed to Joshua's death including a failure to detect and monitor the baby's infection and a failure to provide care before and after birth.

    The government has announced an inquiry to be held in public and there are other investigations into two other NHS bodies.

    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) stands accused of hindering an investigation into parents' concerns, as well as allowing the trust to get foundation status despite allegations about the standards of the maternity services.

    Of the 37 cases of litigation, 23 were started in the past two years. These 23 cases involve nine baby deaths and eight cases of cerebral palsy. Since 2002, the legal cases have involved the deaths of 14 babies and two mothers.

    John Cowdall, trust chairman, said:

    There is no denying that the trust has let women and their families down in the past and there are things that should have been done differently.

    Although we can't change the past, the new trust board is determined that we can learn from it and we will ensure we continue to do so.

    Due to the ongoing police investigation into the deaths of babies and mothers following care received at Furness General Hospital, it would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases. We will continue to co-operate fully and openly with the police.

    The new trust board is resolute in its determination that this trust will never let anyone down again in the way it did in the past, and we will not accept second best for our patients.

    Read full article at BBC News.



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