Patient safety

16.05.18

NMC ignored families and police evidence in ‘incompetent’ handling of Morecambe Bay scandal

The conduct of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) during the Morecambe Bay scandal did not act on concerns raised against midwives suspected of providing dangerously poor care, a major report commissioned by Jeremy Hunt has argued.

In a new 80-page review from the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), it was revealed that the NMC failed to react in time to concerns of families and police, leading to the “avoidable deaths” of 11 children and one mother between 2004 and 2013 at the Furness General Hospital in University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS FT.

Today’s report comes after the head of the NMC Jackie Smith announced yesterday that she will be stepping down from the organisation at the end of July.

The scandal led to a highly-publicised government report in 2015 that claimed there was a “lethal mix” of failures at the hospital that led to as many as 12 preventable deaths.

Delayed investigations, poor record-keeping, and mishandling of grieving families were cited as reasons that led to the major scandal of midwives who were deemed to have ‘covered up’ the poor general practice when performing duties at the hospital.

The report claimed that Cumbria Police “were really concerned” that midwives who had cases against them were still practicing at the hospital. It went on to say the NMC “took no action on this and we do not know whether it was sent to their external lawyers either at the time or when Cumbria Police re-sent the information a year later.”

“In our view there was scope for the NMC to investigate the wider fitness to practise of the midwives concerned and the police expected them to do so at the time the information was sent,” the review argued.

The NMC was also criticised for ignoring information and concerns raised by families, as well as failing to place due weight on the evidence they provided and not being transparent enough.

PSA’s chief executive, Harry Cayton, said that what happened at Furness General Hospital “remains shocking,” with the report now shedding light on the true extent of the NMC’s “inadequate” response.

“Although the NMC has made good progress with its technical handling of complaints and concerns, there remain cultural problems which it must remedy in order for the public to have confidence in its ability to protect them from harm,” noted Cayton.

NMC ‘truly sorry’

NMC’s outgoing chief executive Smith said she was “truly sorry” for the scandal, adding: “We take the findings of this review extremely seriously and we’re committed to improving the way we communicate with families, witnesses and all those involved in the fitness to practise process.

“Since 2014 we’ve made significant changes to improve the way we work and as the report recognises, we’re now a very different organisation. The changes we’ve made puts vulnerable witnesses and families affected by failings in care at the heart of our work. But we know that there is much more to do.”

Philip Graf, chair of the NMC, welcomed the review and promised to act on the lessons learned, as well as work closely with the PSA and other regulators to take forward these recommendations.

 Image Credit:  Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

Enjoying NHE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Highest ever numbers accept GP training posts

19/10/2018Highest ever numbers accept GP training posts

The number of people entering GP training is the highest in NHS history, according to new figures from Health Education England (HEE). A tot... more >
‘No realistic prospect of progress’ for integrated health and social care, PAC warns

19/10/2018‘No realistic prospect of progress’ for integrated health and social care, PAC warns

The government is still “a long way” from achieving an effective strategy for integrated health and social care and has been urged to... more >
One in six trusts could end PFI contracts due to poor performance as NHS heads for £1bn loss

19/10/2018One in six trusts could end PFI contracts due to poor performance as NHS heads for £1bn loss

A new report has revealed that 15% of all NHS trusts using private finance initiatives (PFI) could terminate contracts due to poor performance. ... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

On your bike!

17/10/2018On your bike!

Sathish Sethuraman, travel and transport plan co-ordinator at Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT, explains how efforts to promote cycling to work at the trust are resulting in more staff travelling on two wheels. At Northumbria Healthcare, we are committed to becoming a greener organisation and reducing the environmental impact of delivering p... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Recoup and recover

10/10/2018Recoup and recover

The ease and round-the-clock nature of making cashless payments has transformed the way we pay for goods and services – and, from now on, t... more >
The clinical voice at the heart of procurement

10/10/2018The clinical voice at the heart of procurement

Jo Gander, director of the Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA) team, talks about their role as part of the new NHS Supply Chain. NHS Suppl... more >
Deal or no deal?

10/10/2018Deal or no deal?

Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer and Brexit lead, takes a look at what different Brexit scenarios could means for both patients and healthcare pr... more >
A push for digital in mental health

10/10/2018A push for digital in mental health

Sean Duggan, chief executive of NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, argues that mental health services could hugely benefit from dig... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

health service focus

View all News