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Joint RCOG and RCM statement: Kirkup Report into maternity services at Morecambe Bay NHS Trust

News 3 March 2015

The Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are deeply concerned to read of the failure of maternity services at Morecambe Bay and fully support all the Kirkup Report’s recommendations.

This report highlights serious failings in the provision of care to women and their babies and shows that there were severe deficiencies - both with respect to how these failings were investigated and how the families concerned were involved.

As a result, tragic mistakes occurred over a period of ten years, with devastating consequences for babies, mothers, fathers and their families. In addition, the learning from these failings appears to have been wholly inadequate.

We will now take time in our respective organisations to consider this report in detail and will identify actions that we need to take, both together and separately. We are committed to working together and to offering our support to ensure that the recommendations of this important report are implemented as soon as possible; this is crucial, given the critical importance to high-quality maternity services of multi-professional working and collaboration.

It is vital that all healthcare professionals take note of this important report and learn the lessons contained within it. We will now consider how we might act on the findings, in collaboration with the Government and other organisations, to ensure the failings at Morecambe Bay do not happen again.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of The Royal College of Midwives, says:

“This is a highly critical report that outlines failures in the trust and elsewhere. It also provides a blueprint for positive change in the future. We will commit wholeheartedly to improving safety for women, their babies and their families through working with others to implement the report’s recommendations.”

Dr David Richmond, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says:

“Effective and safe maternity care requires multidisciplinary decision-making, compliance with national guidelines and standards and ensuring that clinicians are up-to-date with their knowledge and skills. We have already agreed to work closely to stamp out undermining behaviour which often leads to poor functional relationships and clinical performance. This report has revealed further challenges that Furness General Hospital faced, including the poor recruitment and retention of doctors and issues around a hospital that is isolated by its geography.

“We will continue to work closely with our clinical colleagues to ensure that we prevent avoidable harm by developing better risk assessment protocols, promoting stronger professional relationships and multidisciplinary teamworking in maternity services. We welcome the statement today of a review of NHS maternity services, outlined by NHS England and which will report by the end of the year.”

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For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk