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Professional Standards Authority publishes ‘Lessons Learned Review’ into the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s handling of concerns about midwives’ fitness to practise at Furness General Hospital

Furness General Hospital

[T]he Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care has today published its Lessons Learned Review into handling by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of concerns about midwives’ fitness to practise at the Furness General Hospital (FGH). These concerns date back to 2004.

This Review, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and supported by the NMC has concluded that, although the NMC’s performance as a regulator is improving, it continues to make some mistakes and must develop a more respectful and open culture.

The Review recognises that the NMC has made many changes and improvements since 2014, but concludes that there are two significant areas requiring additional, urgent work: the NMC’s approach to the value of evidence from and communication with patients; and its commitment in practice to transparency.

The Review makes a series of recommendations intended to aid the NMC and other regulators to improve their standards. These are focused on ways to improve engagement with patients and the public and to act in a transparent fashion.

Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority, Harry Cayton, said: “What happened at Furness General Hospital remains shocking, and the tragic deaths of babies and mothers should never have happened. The findings in the Review we are publishing today show that the response of the NMC was inadequate.

“Although the NMC has made good progress with its technical handling of complaints and concerns, there remain cultural problems which it must remedy in order for the public to have confidence in its ability to protect them from harm.”

Responding to the publication of the report that confirmed the deaths of infants at Furness General Hospital were avoidable, local MP and former Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron said: “This report tells us what the bereaved families have long believed, that tragically these deaths were avoidable.

“The relentless dedication of James Titcombe and the other bereaved families in their pursuit of justice continues to humble me.

“I doubt that these truths would have been revealed without their determination.

“Only time will tell if lessons have been learnt.

“As a father with children born in a maternity unit run by the same Trust, I have nothing but admiration and praise for those who continue to serve as midwives across our area.”

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