Parents criticise 'not fit for purpose' Care Quality Commission amid maternity scandal

  • Watch ITV News Central Correspondent Andy Bevan's report on the couples' letter to the CQC

Two families whose daughters died due to "catastrophic failings" in their care at a hospital trust have sent a damning letter to the head of the health watchdog.

Both children were born at hospitals under the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust but sadly died shortly after they were born.

The families believe the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), is "not fit for purpose".

Colin and Kayleigh Griffiths, from Shropshire, lost their day-old daughter Pippa in 2016 to what was described as "an avoidable death."

They are now campaigning alongside Richard Stanton and Rhiannon Davies, who lost their baby daughter Kate at the same trust in 2009.

So far, their campaign has led to hundreds of other cases being uncovered during a review by former midwife Donna Ockenden.

As a result of the Ockenden Report, other hospitals with high perinatal death rates are now being monitored by the Care Quality Commission. If their rating becomes poor, the hospital should be placed on a watch list.

But the bereaved parents say that from their own research, the CQC's ratings for hospitals are "flawed" and "full of inconsistencies".

They say this could mean some maternity units that should be on the watch list have been left off.

"We've seen Shrewsbury, we've seen Nottingham, we've seen East Kent, we've seen Morecambe Bay - and actually that's all harm that has not been picked up and it should have been picked up by the system," Kayleigh said.

She continued: "We know services aren't safe, we know services are being failed, mothers and babies are being failed and actually we need the best information to make our decisions and we're not getting it."

Colin and Kayleigh lost their day-old daughter Pippa in what was deemed to be an 'unavoidable death' Credit: ITV News Central

The couples have now written to the head of the CQC, branding the service "not fit for purpose."

They're highlighting what they say is a "lottery of misinformation" and are calling for "immediate, robust action."

In their study of 104 CQC inspections since the beginning of 2022, the couples cite examples of what they claim are reports being copied and pasted between hospitals - even duplicating typographical errors.

One report, published in March 2023 from a maternity unit in Yorkshire has a missing full stop.

Another report, which uses some identical wording and has exactly the same mistake is from another maternity unit some 70 miles away in Derbyshire. This one was published in July 2023.

The couples are also questioning why, if a maternity unit is rated as 'good', as in one case, its corresponding hospital is still rated 'requires improvement' - and vice versa.

"We found instances where ratings have been updated, but actually no inspection took place so they shouldn't have been updated; that will then throw off when their next inspection takes place," Kayleigh said.

Colin added: "There seems to be a lot of lazy work that's going on in there at the moment, just basically from [what] Kayleigh has uncovered."

The Chief Executive of the CQC, Ian Trentholm, told ITV News Central: "The issues described in that letter are being taken seriously and we are looking into all points that have been raised.

"I will be engaging with the families directly to provide a full and thorough response as soon as possible."

The couples continue to call for a national public inquiry into maternity services. They've sent a copy of their letter and their findings to Health Secretary Steve Barclay and to Donna Ockenden.

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