Cwm Taf: Improvements ordered at Prince Charles Hospital neonatal unit over maternity care concerns

The neonatal unit at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil has been ordered to take action. Credit: PA Images

A Welsh hospital has been ordered to make immediate improvements to its neonatal services after a review found patient care is being compromised.

An independent panel began the review into the neonatal unit at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil in May this year.

Its evidence so far includes feedback from families who have experienced neonatal care at the unit, as well as case reviews of the sickest babies there last year.

In its interim findings, the panel said it had found issues that were impacting on the "consistent provision of safe and effective care" at the unit.

It has ordered a range of actions, including:

  • Immediate improvements to medicines prescribing and administration with pharmacy support and daily checking of prescriptions.

  • The timely transfer of babies needing referral to a tertiary unit and reducing inappropriate admissions to the Prince Charles Hospital unit.

  •  Increasing the intensity of consultants overseeing the unit and increased time allocated to the unit.

  • Establishing a specialist centre support programme for neonatal nursing staff.

  • Improving specific aspects of clinical practice, including urgent review of the approach to therapeutic cooling of babies and for those requiring intubation.

  • Improvements to the standard of documentation.

The panel heard from families who have received neonatal care at the unit. Credit: PA Images

Health minister Eluned Morgan said the findings would be "difficult and upsetting" for those involved, adding that she is mindful of the pressures currently facing staff.

It is the latest probe into maternity provision under Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.

Shocking failings were uncovered in 2018, which highlighted substandard care and inadequate reporting of incidents at two of the health board's hospitals - The Royal Glamorgan in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and Prince Charles Hospital.

In the wake of an external review, Cwm Taf's maternity services were placed into special measures after serious failings were identified.

The Independent Maternity Services Oversight Panel (IMSOP) was set up after the revelations came to light three years ago.

But in February this year, some of the mothers affected have said they have not been given the answers they need.

Sallie Davies, deputy medical director at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, said: “We welcome the level of scrutiny provided by this review, and with the support of IMSOP and Welsh Government alongside us, we continue to work on ongoing improvements in our maternity and neonatal services.

“We are grateful for all those who have contributed valuable feedback so far but, as the review is not yet complete, it is not appropriate to comment further on specific detail, other than to stress that we remain firmly committed to providing the very best care for women, children and families across our CTM communities.”

But the Welsh Conservative Leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, said: "The ongoing failure to provide adequate maternity services at Cwm Taf is unacceptable. These further failings will be deeply concerning for families using the service."

The Welsh Government says it is working closely with the health board to support and monitor the improvements, with further updates expected as the review continues.