Families take legal action over deaths at Furness General Hospital

20th Mar 2013

Over 30 families have taken legal action against a hospital in Cumbria after a catalogue of baby and maternal deaths and injuries.

Furness General Hospital is now at the centre of a number of investigations into poor care and medical negligence including a police inquiry.

The local NHS trust, who achieved foundation trust status in March 2010, said there was “no denying” that families have been let down in the past.

A team of 15 detectives have been investigating numerous deaths at the hospital since June 2011.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been accused of delaying an investigation into the concerns of parents. It also faced criticism for allowing the trust to get foundation status, despite allegations from parents that important documents were suppressed in the run-up to this announcement. This included an internal maternal services inquiry led by nursing expert Dame Pauline Fielding, which made wide-ranging criticisms.

It described the team working at the hospital as “dysfunctional in some parts of the maternity services” and said that consultants were engrossed in their own agendas, with “little confidence in the clinical leadership”. It stated that management had failed to “establish a common culture… within which good practice could flourish".

A separate report commissioned by Monitor, the supervisory body of the foundation trust, also criticised managers in February 2012.

Of the 37 cases going to trial, 23 began in the past two years, and involved nine baby deaths and eight instances of cerebral palsy. Legal cases since 2002 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 on-going 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."

If you have suffered medical negligence in any form, Mercury Legal can help. Give us a call on 0800 612 7703 or visit our dedicated website www.medicalnegligence-solicitors.com for targeted medical negligence information.

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