|Health Minister Jeremy Hunt: "The families of those who were harmed or died under the care of the trust have persistently and courageously sought a full and independent investigation."|
In a statement to the House of Commons, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt noted the UHMBT has been the subject of scrutiny for a number of years, following the high number of serious untoward incidents in its maternity and neonatal services.
"The families of those who were harmed or died under the care of the trust have persistently and courageously sought a full and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding these deaths," he said yesterday. "I am today announcing to the House the terms of reference for the independent investigation into the management, delivery and outcomes of care provided by the maternity and neonatal services of UHMBT from January 2004 to June 2013, under the chairmanship of Dr Bill Kirkup CBE.
"Dr Kirkup is a former associate medical director at the Department of Health, and served on the Hillsborough independent panel.
"The investigation will primarily focus on the service provided by the trust, and the response of the trust to shortcomings previously identified. It will look at evidence relating to organisations external to the trust where this will help shed light on the tragic events that occurred, and assist in producing recommendations for preventing such incidences in the future. The principle concern of this investigation is getting the answers the families have requested. Answers are required about what went so desperately wrong with the care they received, and the steps the trust must take to ensure no other families suffer in the future.
"This is not an investigation into the regulatory and supervisory systems of the NHS, as these issues have only recently been examined by the second Mid Staffordshire inquiry, and the Department of Health will publish its full response in due course," he explained. "Nor is it a public inquiry as the requirements for public evidence sessions are not considered suitable for the privacy and tact with which this investigation must be undertaken. To ensure that the investigation will meet the requirements of openness and transparency, all of its sessions will be open to family members."
The investigation is expected to report to Mr Hunt by next summer. Dr Kirkup plans to issue a method statement for the investigation in October 2013.
"I am grateful to him and the families for their significant contribution to the design of this investigation process," said Mr Hunt. "I sincerely hope that it will provide them with the answers that they seek."
For more background on events leading to the investigation see also
Watchdog threatens closure of RLI A&E Department
Morecambe Bay NHS Trust faces clinical negligence case over death of pregnant woman