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Furness Hospital Failings: Midwife’s Practice Finally Investigated

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical Negligence

Several years on from a series of terrible failings at Furness General Hospital which led to the deaths of 11 babies and one mother, it is very concerning that the NMC are only now investigating the practice of Jeanette Parkinson, the maternity risk manager, four years after she retired.

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I represented families whose babies died as a result of the systematic failings at Furness General Hospital as early as 2004.

A misconduct hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was told that Ms Parkinson admitted her fitness to practise was impaired. It has not yet been decided whether she will be struck off or face a full hearing.

 

Overview of Furness Baby Deaths Inquiry

In 2015 an independent investigation found that a lethal mix of dysfunctional relationships in the maternity unit at Furness General Hospital led to failings at every level. An inquiry into the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust found 20 major failures from 2004 to 2013 at the hospital.

In a scandal of this magnitude it is often easy for mentions of “failings” and “errors” to overshadow the fact that these instances of medical negligence affected many mothers and families in a very real and terrible way.

The catalogue of errors, including missed opportunities to detect and treat one baby’s symptoms of sepsis, led to a national review of maternity care.

Despite the problems starting in 2004 and continuing throughout the period, including a cluster of five major incidents in 2008, it was only in 2011 that the issues at Furness General came to wider attention. Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, issued an apology for the failings of the trust. 

 

 

 

Ms Parkinson is the seventh midwife to be investigated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council over the scandal. Two have previously been struck off and another suspended.

In a scandal of this magnitude it is often easy for mentions of “failings” and “errors” to overshadow the fact that these instances of medical negligence affected many mothers and families in a very real and terrible way.

I hope that there will be a full hearing of Jeanette Parkinson’s case to ensure that every possible lesson is learned from the tragedies that occurred.

 

For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence compensation claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

Helen Budge is a principal lawyer specialising in clinical negligence claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.

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