Concerns over Ladywell Maternity Unit at North Devon District Hospital

 

It has recently been reported that an independent review has been undertaken at North Devon District Hospital following several ‘incidents’ reported at the maternity unit. This report confirmed that staff at the Ladywell maternity unit had been suspended following a series of incidents – including the death of a baby

Enable Law’s specialist team have been working closely with local and national agencies to bring some of these problems to light. Through our experience of medical group actions (such as the cases against the obstetrician and gynaecologist Rob Jones in Cornwall) we are already working to engineer change, and to represent those affected.

Over the last 3 years we have investigated over 20 cases on behalf of patients who  had concerns about their treatment at North Devon District Hospital, many involving maternity care and some where, tragically, the babies have died or suffered significant injury.

North Devon District Hospital has confirmed that “changes to working patterns for consultants” have been introduced as a result of investigations into “recent incidents” at the Ladywell maternity unit.

Although no members of staff at the unit are currently suspended, the report confirmed their understanding that there have been recent suspensions in connection with these incidents – though the hospital could not confirm how many people were previously suspended.

The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust alerted NHS Improvement – the group responsible for overseeing Trusts – as a result of the “recent incidents” earlier this year.

A recent article reported that they had received a copy of an anonymous letter which included what appeared to be an internal memo circulated to staff at the NDDH maternity unit.

The memo quoted in the article was dated October 6, 2017, and purported to be sent by George Thomson, the hospital’s medical director and consultant endocrinologist.

It confirms that the Trust has been visited by the Royal College of Obstetrics and the CQC who both raised concerns regarding maternity services at North Devon District Hospital. The Hospital has confirmed that they were “investigating some recent incidents in line with our robust processes to establish whether the incidents were avoidable and whether there is anything we can learn from them”.

At its last CQC inspection in November 2015, NDDH was rated as “requires improvement”.

Enable Law are encouraged to see that the Royal College are conducting this investigation and that the CQC are aware of the situation. It is important that lessons are learned from previous experiences, such as the Rob Jones cases in Cornwall, and ensure that there is openness and transparency so that patients can be reassured going forward.

The people of North Devon need to be reassured that steps are being taken to ensure that the unit is fully resourced and is able to provide a safe standard of maternity care.

We have many years of experience investigating the circumstances arising out of the tragic loss of a baby and devastating injuries that can be caused to a baby during delivery. Dealing with such tragedies is incredibly difficult, but it is not a burden you have to bear alone. As recognised national experts in group action litigation, we know how to fight your corner.

If you have concerns please contact Claire Stoneman or Dan Isaac, or call us on 0800 044 8488.

For more information on our work with stillbirth and neonatal deaths please click here.