Details of independent inquiry into poor care at Furness General Hospital released (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Details of independent inquiry into poor care at Furness General Hospital released
4:18pm Friday 1st November 2013 in News
PEOPLE affected by poor care at a scandal hit Cumbrian maternity ward have been urged to come forward and contact an independent inquiry.
Dr Bill Kirkup CBE will chair the investigation, which will look at the deaths at the maternity unit of Furness General Hospital, in Barrow, between January 2004 and June 2013.
Today Dr Kirkup held a briefing in Preston to explain how the investigation will conduct its work.
Although he refused to name any individuals who will give evidence to the six expert panel members, Dr Kirkup did say that representatives from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Cumbria Constabulary and the Care Quality Commission would be involved.
A full list would be published in advance of the first meeting of the panel later this month, he said.
He also appealed for any families affected by the tragedies to contact the panel via its website if they had not already done so.
"We are keen to hear from as many people as we can because that will broaden the amount of evidence we can follow up, so if anybody does know of anyone please do tell them they would be very welcome if they get in touch with us," he said.
The investigation will review care mothers and babies received at FGH and how UHMBT reacted to the incidents there.
The panel is expected to publish its findings in July. They will consist of recommendations on the lessons that need to be learned by UHMBT and the NHS as a whole.
All the panel meetings will be held at the Park Hotel, in Preston.
Although they will not be held in public, families will be able to attend the meetings where the individuals will be called to give evidence.
"The route we are taking to ensure transparency is allowing the family members to attend and scrutinise proceedings," said Dr Kirkup.
"What they can do is liaise with me about the areas we are covering and scrutinise each session to make sure we are covering them satisfactorily."
The wider public and media would only be able to access information about its work via updates on the investigation website, he said.
"We will make sure we keep the website up to date with what we are doing, who we are seeing and what areas we are covering, I don't think that going further than that is sensible or helpful," he said.
He said the website would be updated with any "new information" within 24 hours, although the panel would decide exactly what constituted "new information".
"Certainly if we have a panel meeting and interview a group of people it will be updated," he said.
Although the investigation would focus on the FGH maternity ward, he said it would not shy away from investigating the involvement of the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health.
The CQC gave UHMBT the all clear in 2010 despite problems at the maternity unit. It was also granted foundation status in the same year.
An independent report published in June alleged CQC bosses "covered up" an internal review that found its 2010 assessment of problems at the maternity unit failed to identify the dangers presented to mothers and babies.
"There's no ringfence, there is nothing where we will say you can't look at that," Dr Kirkup said.
The investigation can be contact via its website at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/morecambe-bay-investigation
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