Monday, 15 February 2010

Twin death 'backs maternity cuts'

ONE twin died and another survived at a Midlands hospital, chiefs have revealed – and said the tragedy backs the controversial downgrading of Solihull Hospital’s maternity services.

Health bosses have released details of the incident as part of its arguments to temporarily downgrade maternity from April 1. This could later be made permanent.

Solihull NHS Care Trust says there are not enough doctors to share between Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Solihull if a child needs resuscitation.

A newly released report says the first twin was delivered at 7.05am at Heartlands.

Yet it said ‘obstetric care management issues’ meant the second delivery was delayed to 7.59am and the child died about 40 hours later.

A trainee doctor started resuscitation until a doctor arrived within 10 minutes, it says.

The Government has said it is acceptable for a doctor to get to a child as long as it is within 10 minutes.

The ‘main concern’ is the ‘management of the second twin during labour’, it says.

It said although a probe has not been completed, ‘this incident has realised significant concern in the trust’s ability to safely and effectively serve its whole population’.

It lists two other ‘significant clinical events’. The first was the death of a baby who a coroner ruled ‘might have been effectively resuscitated’ if a doctor was available.

A second infant survived despite a delay of 41 minutes for the specialist team to get to Solihull.

The report says Solihull does not meet a series of safety guidelines, was not keeping up doctors’ skills by spreading them too thinly and deaths put it at risk of legal action.

Specialist midwives had intended to withdraw cover from August over concerns about safety but agreed to postpone this to April, the report says.

Yet it says a risk assessment which led to the decision to axe the service was ‘difficult to carry out due to lack of site specific data’.

And it says a December meeting of staff and managers found Solihull ‘is able to operate to a level of safety’ but is not meeting ‘best practice’ and is ‘fragile’.

The report includes a letter from the Southern West Midlands Newborn Network, a group of senior NHS maternity staff, which says an emergency closure should be considered.

It says: “Support for babies born in an unexpectedly poor condition who require resuscitation is a basic right which is not currently available at Solihull.”

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