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WATCH: Morecambe Bay maternity scandal hearing opens

Eleven babies and a mother died in the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal. An independent investigation found there was a "lethal mix" of failures and described the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital as "seriously dysfunctional".

Today a midwife at the centre of that scandal faced a misconduct hearing

Our correspondent Amy Welch has been at the hearing in London.

Ina statement the Nursing and Midwifery Council say:

It is clear that these cases have taken far too long to conclude and I would like to sincerely apologise again to the families of those affected.

As an organisation we are focused on ensuring that we learn the lessons of the past. We have already made a number of changes to ensure that cases never take this long to conclude again.

– Nursing and Midwifery Council

Watch: Morecambe Bay NHS Trust rated as 'good'

Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust has has some very negative press lately, most shockingly the deaths of 11 babies and a mother at Furness General hospital.

But now there's better news. After being put in to special measures in 2014, the health watchdog has now rated the trust as good.

Our correspondent Amy Welch has tonight's top story.


Parents recollections branded 'unreliable' at midwives hearing

The recollections of the parents of a baby, who died after just nine days, have been branded "unreliable" at the disciplinary hearing of two midwives in London.

It is alleged midwives Gretta Dixon and Catherine McCullough both failed to refer Hoa Titcombe for assessment after she claims she informed them she felt unwell.

James Titcombe, father of Joshua Titcombe, arriving at the hearing earlier this week Credit: PA

Her baby died nine days after being born at Furness General Hospital due to an infection that a 2011 inquest found was not picked up by midwives.

Thomas Buxton, representing Ms Dixon, said the case against his client should be withdrawn and called the evidence given by Mr and Mrs Titcombe "unreliable".

He told the panel that the mention of being unwell or poorly arose "for the first time at the inquest hearing in June (2011)".

Mrs Titcombe said in her evidence she was unable to identify which midwife she spoke to about feeling unwell - saying there were two going in and out of the room on October 25.

A decision on whether the two midwives will face sanctions is expected on tomorrow.

Baby Joshua, who died after nine days

Scandal-hit NHS trust 'paid £4m in excellence bonuses'

The scandal-hit Morecambe Bay NHS Trust received nearly four million pounds in "Clinical Excellence Awards", according to the TaxPayers' Alliance.

The pressure group says at least 259 seperate awards were given to staff at the trust between 2006 and 2010.

A government report into the quality of care found a "lethal mix" of failures contributed to the deaths of one mother and 11 babies.

It's shocking that as patients were being subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of some staff, these Trusts saw fit to dish out huge bonuses for supposed excellence.

Public inquiries have been scathing of the scandalous care at these hospitals, and the awarding of cash rewards for staff shows that priorities were seriously mixed up.

The government must take a very close look at this scheme and ensure that taxpayers' money never gets wasted on bonuses for staff while patients are suffering.

– Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance


Health boss faces questions in health trust investigation

Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of the National Health Service is due to be interviewed as part of the investigation into University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. The investigation follows a series of damning reports which said major failings means the deaths of mothers and babies were not properly investigated. A panel has been looking into midwifery care at Furness General hospital after a report by the health ombudsman identified serious errors in the care provided. Investigation chairman, Dr Bill Kirkup, a former deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said interviews would be held in the presence of families only due to “sensitive and personal clinical matters”.

NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh will face questions Credit: PA

Morecambe Bay hospitals set to be put in "special measures"

A man who had to have his leg amputated after his treatment went wrong 2 years ago says he's not surprised the same hospital trust is now in special measures.

Roy Gay wants to know why lessons don't appear to have been learnt after health inspectors ruled the quality of care provided by Morecambe Bay NHS Trust was still inadequate after a visit five months ago.

The trust argues it's part-way through a process of improvement and that services such as maternity and A & E had improved since previous checks.

Our Lancashire reporter Amy Welch has been following the story:

Trust "disappointed" at inspectors report

"We are all incredibly disappointed to receive the overall (inadequate) rating for the trust. The reports reflect the fact that we are part-way through a process of significant improvement which is still going to take a number of years to complete. It isn't an overnight job to change the culture of a large complex organisation but through the hard work and commitment of our staff, governors and partners, our hospitals are now much safer, with improved standards of care in a number of areas from two years ago when we started to turn them around."

– Trust Chief Executive Jackie Daniel

Inspectors say health trust's care "inadequate"

A health trust that's been the subject of a number of critical reports, has now been put into special measures. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission said the quality of care provided by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust was inadequate.

Care at Furness General Hospital requires improvement according to the CQC Credit: ITV Granada

Inspectors found the trust lacked a clear vision for its staff and recruitment of nurses and doctors remained a "fundamental concern". They accepted that care in maternity and A&E had improved, but in other areas, despite previous concerns, care had still not been addressed effectively.

An independent inquiry into care provided by the trust's maternity and neonatal services from January 2004 to June last year is currently taking place following a "high number of serious untoward incidents" including patient deaths.

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