Roof issues ‘resulted in maternity shortages’
UNFORESEEN complications with a hospital’s roof put an intense strain on maternity services in Cwm Taf University Health Board, it has been revealed.
Since 2013 plans have been in place to remove consultant-led midwifery services, as well as neonatal and inpatient paediatrics, from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant.
In turn Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil would be upgraded and house all of these key services on behalf of all patients in the health board.
The changes means that babies who are severely premature or ill and need doctor-led care will no longer be delivered at the Royal Glamorgan and will instead be sent to Prince Charles in Merthyr or the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff.
Following approval from the Welsh Government for new capital investment, staff were due to move to the newly-refurbished Prince Charles site this autumn.
But, according to new papers published by Cwm Taf, major issues with the roof at Prince Charles led to delays in the transfer of employees – and caused shortages in maternity as a result.
The papers state: “It was always known that a number of midwifery staff would move to neighbouring maternity units at the time of the transfer due to travelling constraints.
“The delay in the move has meant that a number of staff, very understandably, needed to be released to their new employers in advance of the move.
“This has put additional pressure on the maternity service in Cwm Taf at a time when there was already a high degree of uncertainty associated with the service move and the need to follow new ways of working.
“The acute staff shortages have had a major impact on the ability to release staff for training, supervision and morale – all of which do have an impact on the quality of care and which must be addressed.”
Cwm Taf University Health Board is currently carrying out a review into the safety of its maternity services between January 1, 2016, and September 2018.
It followed a concern among senior managers over an apparent underreporting of incidents of potential harm.
Just 13 serious incident reports were highlighted to the Welsh Government during that time period – but following an investigation it was found that the total should have been 43.
Of those 43 incidents 20 were recorded as stillbirths and six were of babies dying shortly after birth.
The board papers added: “It is clear from the review process to date that there has been an underreporting of serious incidents in the maternity service. This is unacceptable.”
Cwm Taf UHB said it was midway through reviewing each of the 43 incidents and has offered “redress” to patients involved in five of the cases.
There are currently 21 cases still outstanding where the outcomes are yet to be confirmed.
The health board said its internal report is likely to be published in April 2019.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has also commissioned an external review to be carried out with the help of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives.
Since the under-reporting came to light the health board has taken action to strengthen its workforce including:
Appointing an additional middle-grade doctor;
Advertising for additional medical staff including consultants;
Appointing a consultant midwife;
Recruiting 15 midwives who will be joining the service over the next few weeks; and;
Getting senior midwife support from neighbouring health boards to support overall staffing levels.
Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil