Cwm Taf maternity review: Mum ‘scared’ to use hospital

Sarah Handy
Image caption Sarah Handy was discharged from hospital with painkillers then baby daughter Jennifer died after she was born suddenly at home

A mother whose baby died after failures at a hospital at the centre of a damning report has said she still has no faith in its maternity services.

Sarah Handy was sent home with painkillers and laxatives before giving birth to Jennifer, who died a short time later.

A highly-critical report said maternity services at Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles hospitals were “dysfunctional”.

Cwm Taf health board said it understood people’s anxieties.

The independent review found services for expectant and new mothers were “under extreme pressure” with patients’ worries often ignored.

‘Questions to answer’

It was prompted by concerns over the deaths of a number of babies.

After the report uncovered numerous failings, Health Minister Vaughan Gething put Cwm Taf maternity services into special measures.

Mrs Handy said: “I’ve lost all confidence and trust in the service. I would be very, very scared to use the services again. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

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Media caption‘We picked the wrong day to be ill’

Ms Handy’s case was one of those highlighted in the accompanying report, which carried concerns expressed by women and families over the quality of care they received.

The review team said her case included at least five failings in how the maternity service responded and dealt with her in April 2017.

Ms Handy, from Merthyr Tydfil, wants to see more staff and more safeguards in place: “Doctors, midwives, across the board really, listening to patients and patients feeling much more valued.”

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Media captionJessica Western says she is still fighting to find out why her daughter Macie died

Meanwhile, Des Kitto, chief officer of the board of Community Health Councils (CHC) in Wales and former chief officer for patient watchdog Cwm Taf CHC said it was a “horrific report” which was “sickening to the stomach”.

He said the CHC raised concerns about the number of stillbirths and undertook unannounced visits but “didn’t seem to get any results”, so their concerns were escalated to regulators Health Inspectorate Wales which led to the Welsh Government involvement.

He is unhappy they were not made aware of an internal report by a consultant midwife, produced in September. The independent review criticised Cwm Taf for sitting on it.

“I don’t think we had the full story,” said Mr Kitto.

“I don’t think there was an attempt to mislead, but patients have been let down and the responsibility goes back to the whole board – we should be looking at how they can rebuild the necessary trust.

“Trust has been lost. It has got to be action now from the health board, and not words.

“Anybody going in to have a baby… must now be fully aware that they are going into a service that is safe and that will respond to their greatest needs.”

Image copyright Cwm Taf HA
Image caption Prince Charles Hospital now has an expanded special care baby unit and six en-suite delivery rooms

Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive at Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, said: “It is incredibly sad that for so many parents the first time they truly feel their voice has been heard, since suffering the devastation of the death of their baby, is a report into failings at a maternity unit that may have led to that bereavement.”

She highlighted the testimony of one mother, who recalled a woman coming in and saying “‘Just to let you know the baby’s died.’ She didn’t break it gently. Then she just walked away.”

Cwm Taf health board had already been planning changes and since March, specialist neonatal care is now only provided on one site – Prince Charles Hospital. The Royal Glamorgan still has a midwife-led unit for less complicated births.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg chief executive Allison Williams said: “We completely understand the anxiety people may be feeling and we would encourage people to talk to their community midwife to ensure that they have their questions answered.”

She offered a public apology saying she was “deeply sorry for the failings” identified.

She said the health board fully accepted the findings and putting things right was now the organisation’s utmost priority.

“Some of the feedback we have received from patients is extremely distressing,” she added.

“I would also like to say sorry to our staff who have felt that their concerns have not been listened to.”



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