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Families ‘misled’ about scandal-hit maternity services

23 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Singleton Hospital in Swansea. Image by Richard Youle

Chris Haines ICNN Senedd Reporter

Families were misled about a review into scandal-hit maternity services that was never actually carried out, the Senedd has heard.

Russell George, the Conservative shadow health minister, said parents and the press were wrongly told a review of serious incidents and complaints at Swansea Bay health board had taken place last year.

He told the Senedd that about 300 incidents are currently under investigation in Swansea Bay alone.

Robert and Sian Channon’s four-year-old son Gethin was born with brain damage after complications during his birth at Singleton Hospital in 2019.

Serious incidents

Mr George said: “The family received two freedom of information responses from the NHS Wales delivery unit which confirmed that a review had not taken place.”

He asked: “Why was this review never commissioned or carried out and why did the Welsh Government say it had been completed when no review had been undertaken?”

Eluned Morgan, Wales’ health minister, said that the Welsh Government has looked to learn from the scandal at Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board where major failings were uncovered.

A 2019 external review found serious incidents had been under-reported at the Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles Hospitals in Llantrisant and Merthyr Tydfil, respectively.

Baroness Morgan told MSs that ministers are looking at two intakes a year at universities, rather than the current one, to solve staffing issues.

She said: “There are challenges around maternity, some of them to do with the staffing area…. What happens is, towards the end of the year, we don’t have enough people on the wards, because some people retire.”

Mr George accused the minister of evading his question.

He said: “The Welsh Government has previously stated that there are no concerns, based on a report – a report that was never actually carried out.”

Repeated failings

The Montgomeryshire MS told the Senedd that an unannounced inspection by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales in September reported some of the worst staff feedback ever seen.

He questioned the safety of maternity services in Swansea Bay and asked why the Welsh Government had “done nothing to escalate intervention in this service”.

Baroness Morgan assured MSs that officials are keeping a close eye on the situation, sharing: “My officials are in touch with the health board in particular on this issue of how we improve maternity outcomes in Swansea.”

She said ministers have allocated significant additional funding in an effort to raise standards in maternity services across Wales.

Mr George argued that the Welsh Government’s response to repeated failings has been totally inadequate. Calling for an independent inquiry into maternity services in Swansea, he said: “It looks to me like there has been delay, there’s been dithering and there’s been failure to properly investigate.”

Robert Channon, who was in the public gallery, said his family will continue to fight for justice.

He pointed out that, from health questions on Wednesday 22 November and when asked, Eluned Morgan did not say that the maternity service in Swansea Bay is safe.

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