Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, together with local MP, John Woodcock, visited staff at the new South Lakes Birth Centre at Furness General Hospital (FGH) on Thursday 17 May 2018.
During the visit, the Minister and John were taken on a tour of the new £12m unit, which opened its doors in February 2018. Following the tour of the unit, the Minister and John met with staff from across maternity services at a special market place, where they heard about recent changes and developments the teams have led to improve services for local women and families.
The Minister and John also spent time talking to members of two of the families who sadly lost loved ones following care at FGH, and who now work closely with the Trust to ensure that it continually improves.
Aaron Cummins, Chief Executive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation (UHMBT), said: “I always enjoy it when people take the time to visit any of our hospitals as I know that our staff have incredible and inspirational stories of improvement to tell. We all know how hard our staff have been working to make our services the best they can be, and to hear the Minister say she was ‘blown away’ by her experience at the new unit, fills me with immense pride. Thank you to the Minister and John for taking the time to come and see us, and also to our teams for supporting the visit.”
After speaking to staff, the Minister and John also had chance to meet with Aaron Cummins, Chief Executive; Ian Johnson, Chairman; Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse; Dr David Walker, Medical Director; from the Trust to discuss the improvement journey over the last few years and next steps.
Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “During the visit, the Minister commented on how positive and enthusiastic our staff were to make change, and that is what makes a real difference. Our staff do incredible work day in, day out, and they truly are testament to what can be achieved when you work together with local communities.”
Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health said: “I was blown away by the new South Lakes Birth Centre. What was impressive was how patients were at the heart of the design process, providing input to develop facilities which work around patients’ needs.
“It was also encouraging to see empowered staff who have the energy and enthusiasm to deliver the best care.
“Well done to staff at Furness for their efforts to make the birth centre a safe and more modern environment and to ensure high quality care for mothers, babies and their families.”
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “Our community was rocked by past failings at Furness General’s maternity unit which led to tragedies that we were reminded of last week when the midwifery scandal resurfaced when the PSA report was published.
“Transformative culture changes were needed and I am pleased the health minister has recognised they are now being delivered. It was great to see staff in action and the freshly-minted birth centre bedding in.
“Patients have helped to design the units and some of their ideas have been amazing. Now families across Barrow and Furness can have the gold standard maternity care they deserve.”