CWM TAF MORGANNWG UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD maternity and neonatal services have been taken out of special measures three years after “serious failings” were first identified at two of its hospitals.
Substandard care and inadequate reporting of incidents were first uncovered at the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and the Royal Glamorgan hospital in Llantrisant in 2018 – with the health board placed under special measures the following year.
A new report by the Independent Maternity Services Oversight Panel found the health board has made “remarkable progress” and that improvements had been made in 13 key areas.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan announced that the health board has been reclassified as being under “targeted intervention” which means a “degree of oversight and support will continue to be required.”
The minister said: “I am pleased to report the panel’s assessment that each of the conditions have been met during this reporting period and the health board’s maternity and neonatal improvement journey can now be considered sustainable.
“Under targeted intervention, we will continue to work with the health board to ensure all the necessary improvements are made and embedded in practice.”
Ms Morgan added: “I expect the health board to maintain the momentum over recent months in delivering the remainder of the neonatal improvement plan in line with proposed timescales.”
Commenting, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS told Herald.Wales:
“It is a shame that after recent progress on de-escalating maternity services from special measures, it has become apparent that in chasing one result, the minister has taken her foot off the pedal and seen things get worse in other parts of Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board.
“Everyone should be concerned that the government is directly intervening because of quality performance and long waiting times because this has very real consequences for patient safety and staff well-being.
“Sadly, the issues facing the NHS are Wales-wide, with most health boards in some state of intervention, record-long waiting lists, the slowest ever ambulance response times, and Britain’s worst A&E waits.
“What we need more than just action is an explanation for why this is the case – otherwise, Labour will never get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records.”
She also confirmed North Wales’ health board will remain at targeted intervention to incorporate Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, focusing on the vascular service and emergency department, stating “it is clear there are still a number of serious challenges the health board needs to overcome.”
Maternity services at the health board were placed in special measures in 2019 after an external review identified “serious failings”.
The review was commissioned by the Welsh Government after concerns were raised surrounding the number of deaths of babies in its maternity units.
It was later found that one in three babies who were still born at the Prince Charles or Royal Glamorgan hospitals between January 2016 and September 2018 might have survived had the treatment provided been different.
A report into stillbirths at the health board by the Independent Maternity Services Oversight Panel looked into 63 “episodes of care” where a baby was stillborn.
It found that of the 63 stillbirths, 21 involved a major factor that contributed significantly to what happened and according to the report “different management may have altered the outcome.”
The Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board welcomed the decision to move its maternity and neonatal services out of special measures.
Suzanne Hardacre, director of nursing and midwifery at Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB said: “We are pleased with the findings of the Panel’s latest report, and the acknowledgment of just how far we have come, and what we have achieved, as a service.
“Over the last three and a half years our teams in neonatal and maternity services have shown outstanding commitment to our improvement journey and to making positive change for our families.
“Today’s report demonstrates very clearly the progress we have made, however, we also recognise that this is a journey of continuous improvement, and that there is still more work to do.
“Women and families have always been at the centre of our drive to improve, and it is essential that we continue to listen, learn and improve from their experiences. We know that babies and new families within CTM deserve the very best start in life and, while we will never forget the mistakes of the past, we are confident that the care we continue to provide our communities is safe, professional and of the highest standard.”
Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies said: “I welcome the news that maternity services at Cwm Taf have been taken out of special measures.
“But we must not forget the trauma that was faced by so many families as a result of what was a failing service.
“We have to learn lessons from those traumas and those failings, and make sure that a compassionate and functional maternity service is offered going forward.”