Furness General Hospital parents fight for answers
Last updated at 16:44, Monday, 20 August 2012
FAMILIES calling for a public inquiry into failings at a hospital’s maternity unit could be left facing an indefinite wait for answers.
Grieving loved ones of mothers and babies who died at Furness General Hospital are calling for an independent investigation into how problems were allowed to continue for so long, by the trust and the regulators responsible for it.
UHMBT has said it is aware people want to know more about why things went wrong, and its new board is considering the issue.
But Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock, believes an inquiry may have to wait until a criminal investigation into several deaths in maternity has finished.
“He said: “I understand why grieving families who have suffered poor care are demanding answers into why failings were allowed to persist for so long.
“I think the criminal investigation needs to take its course before a proper judgement can be made on a further inquiry.”
It is feared much of the evidence needed for an inquiry would have to be heard behind closed doors or a hearing would have to
be adjourned straight after opening, to avoid prejudicing the police investigation.
But Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, describes this view as “a complete red herring”.
The national charity has set up an online petition calling for an independent investigation.
Mr Walsh said: “The police investigation is into very specific cases and potential criminal charges.
“What we are calling for is an inquiry into the regulatory failures that have allowed what happened to happen.
“There wouldn’t be any duplication – these issues can be discussed without compromising anything the police are looking at.
“There’s no reason whatsoever to delay.
“We can’t wait months or years – there are other parts of the country that might be as badly affected by problems with regulation.”
Mr Walsh said he has asked to meet with both Mr Woodcock and Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron, who shares the Barrow MP’s view.
Mr Farron said: “I am very sympathetic to the request (for a public inquiry) and have spoken to the health minister, Simon Burns, about this.
“We both believe, however, that it would be best to await the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigation.”
A spokesman for Mr Farron said the MP had been told it would be around 18 months until Cumbria Constabulary was ready to hand the findings of its investigation to the Crown Prosecution Service.
But Detective Inspector Doug Marshall said it was not possible to give an indication of when the investigation would conclude.
He added: “Our priority is uncovering the truth and conducting a full and thorough investigation on behalf of the families that have tragically lost their loved ones.
“There is a great wealth of information to examine in painstaking detail, and this is continuing to establish which cases may be included in the ongoing police investigation and which, if any, criminal acts have taken place.”
The criminal investigation into the Barrow hospital was launched in June last year following the inquest of baby boy Joshua Titcombe. Joshua died in 2008 after midwives at FGH failed to spot he had contracted an infection.
In September last year, police confirmed they had widened the scope of their investigation to include “a number” of deaths, but refused to confirm how many.
First published at 16:34, Monday, 20 August 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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