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RCOG statement on the independent report on Morecambe Bay hospitals

News 19 June 2013

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the acknowledgement by the Care Quality Commission today that their internal processes have been weak. Unfortunately, this led to poor local maternity services and avoidable maternal and neonatal deaths at University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Trust in 2010.

The RCOG believes that all NHS providers must provide high quality and clinically effective care. It is crucial that investigators and regulators have the mechanisms in place and statutory enforcement powers to ensure that NHS services are safe. Information should be shared between hospitals, inspectors and regulators and staff should be empowered to report instances of poor care with the appropriate safeguards and checks in place.

These principles are raised and discussed in the RCOG’s Manifesto for Change that was produced in response to the recommendations of the second Francis Inquiry. In this document, the RCOG notes that all Trusts and NHS staff must have a duty of candour to report their concerns if they feel that care in their units is poor. Trusts should also seriously consider introducing a safety champion for O&G services who will have direct responsibility for ensuring that accurate clinical and outcomes data are collected and filtered through to the relevant authorities, so that performance is monitored and issues can be detected.

The RCOG believes that the CQC’s report highlights the crucial role of healthcare professionals in the inspection process and would welcome closer working with the CQC in hospital inspections.

Dr Tony Falconer, RCOG President said,

“The new leadership team at the CQC, the appointment of the Chief Inspector of Hospitals and the present focus on building a culture of openness and transparency and multidisciplinary team working between professionals will help improve NHS services.

“As stated in our Manifesto, the Royal Colleges should have a role in hospital visits and accreditation. These examine quality standards in education, training and services in hospitals. Far from adding another level of bureaucracy to the inspections process, these assessments are a reliable early warning system since they pick up on some key areas that not covered by CQC inspections.”

Notes

The independent review by auditors Grant Thornton can be found here.

The CQC press release can be found here.