THE deadline for the investigation into mother and baby deaths at the Morecambe Bay hospital trust has been extended by several months.

The Morecambe Bay Investigation, looking independently at maternity and neonatal services at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT), will now be completed by Autumn, rather than July, as originally planned.

According to a spokesman for the investigation, chairman, Dr Bill Kirkup, has led a team which has identified over 20 organisations holding material that is ‘relevant to its terms of reference’.

“The chairman and his panel of expert advisors are currently reviewing the significant volume of evidence submitted and further evidence will be delivered in the coming weeks,” they continued.

“The Secretary of State recognises that, due to the significant volume of material the Investigation has received, a short extension to the timeline will enable the chairman and panel to review all of the evidence and address the terms of reference.

“He has therefore agreed that Dr Kirkup should submit his peport in the Autumn.”

The investigation is being carried out into the deaths of mothers and newborn babies in the maternity and neonatal services unit at Furness General Hospital, between January 2004 and June 2013.

Several reviews took place during this period - but the spokesman said they ‘did not give those affected confidence’ that all of the facts had been heard and all of the underlying issues had been resolved.

Earlier this year Dr Kirkup released an open letter to anybody affected by care on the maternity or neonatal units to come forward.

“The Morecambe Bay Investigation has been set up to examine the historic standard of care received by mothers and babies,” he said.

“As chairman of the investigation I would like to invite any families who previously received unsatisfactory care from the maternity and neonatal services at Furness General Hospital, Lancaster Royal Infirmary and Westmorland General Hospital during this time period to contact the investigation to talk about their experiences.

“The investigation is looking at both the deaths of mothers and very young babies, as well as cases of babies who were injured in childbirth, during this period.

“It will also look at how the trust managed serious untoward incidents.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron added: “The only way we can get to the truth, learn lessons and make sure it doesn’t happen again is if everyone who feels that they were let down or received unsatisfactory care gets heard.”

A list of potential interviewees is currently being compiled and details of this will be published on the investigation website, once confirmed.