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'Broken contract' between maternity unit and patients

Twelve deaths over eight years, all of which could have been prevented. That's the conclusion of an independent inquiry set-up to look into the failures at a maternity unit in South Cumbria.

Dr Bill Kirkup, who chaired the investigation into Furness General Hospital said a "lethal mix" of problems at a "seriously dysfunctional" maternity unit led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, apologised to the families of the victims today - before describing the unit as a "second Mid Staffs".

Our reporter Elaine Willcox was at today's inquiry:

Well earlier Elaine spoke to the new Medical Director at Morecambe Bay Trust, Dr David Walker.

He apologised to the families of the victims and promised wholesale reviews from the board to the ward.

MP speaks out on maternity deaths findings

A Cumbrian MP has branded maternity deaths at Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust as ‘one of the worst episodes of systematic failings within the NHS in recent times’.

Speaking after the publication of the Kirkup review today, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said he blamed pressure to achieve Foundation Trust status for leading to poor patient care and patient safety being compromised at the Morecambe Bay NHSTrust - especially in Barrow.

"The first issues relating to maternity deaths at Barrow were raised back in 2004. It is awful that it has taken until today to get to the truth of what has happened. Eleven years is simply too long to wait. My thoughts today are withthe families who will be reading the report with apprehension and trepidation,hoping words will finally be turned into action.

"I will continue to do all I can to try and support the families affected and campaign alongside them for the report's recommendations to be enacted. Like them, I want people to be held to account for their actions.”

– Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale


Morecambe Bay Trust Hospital maternity report released today

- Credit: ITV Border News

An independent report into maternity and neo-natal services at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust is due to be published today.

Dr Bill Kirkup's report of the investigation into mother and baby deaths at Furness General Hospital in Barrow will be published at midday.

Deliveries resume for Berwick mothers-to-be

Deliveries are re-starting at Berwick Infirmary Credit: ITV News Border

Women will once again be to give birth at Berwick maternity unit from Monday 1st July.

The service was suspended last August over safety concerns. It was feared that midwives were not receiving enough regular experience because so few deliveries had been taking place there.

Now, women whose births are considered low-risk will be able to have their babies in Berwick. However, the unit will not be staffed 24 hour a day. It will instead use on-call midwives in the evening, overnight and after 2.30pm at weekends.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust describes the new arrangements as 'safe and sustainable'. It says Berwick midwives will continue to work at Wansbeck Hospital in Ashington on rotation, to ensure they are able to regularly practice their full range of skills.

The Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith says he is pleased with the development, but will be studying the details of the on-call service. He wants to know where midwives will be based when they are on call, and how the service can continue during bad weather.