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Independent Maternity Services

Written by on 8th September 2021

The Welsh Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan MS has issued a statement about the Interim findings of an Independent Maternity Services Oversight Panel review of neonatal care at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.

She said in recent months the panel has increased its focus on neonatal care and a deep review has been carried out into those services at Prince Charles Hospital, in Merthyr Tydfil.

The comprehensive review includes feedback from families who have experienced neonatal care, with more than 100 responding to a listening exercise undertaken during July, plus conversations with staff, case reviews of the sickest infants at the unit during 2020 – and a review of documentation relating to clinical outcomes, safety and effectiveness data, as well as clinical governance and assurance.

From the evidence the panel identified some areas it feels are impacting on the consistent provision of safe and effective care that would be expected of such a unit in the UK – and took a decision to advise the health board and escalate a range of issues for immediate and short-term action.

These include: Making immediate improvements to medicines prescribing and administration with pharmacy support and daily checking of prescriptions.

An audit to ensure the timely transfer of babies needing referral to a tertiary unit and reduce inappropriate admissions to the Prince Charles Hospital unit.

The intensity of consultants overseeing the unit will have increased time allocated to the unit – with closer working and support from the specialist neonatal unit in Cardiff and recruitment of two additional consultants is already underway, with one due to take up a post in November.

And other improvements will include establishment of a specialist centre support programme for neonatal nursing staff.

The Minister says she is mindful of the pressures currently facing staff and neonatal services are no exception – so these findings will be difficult and upsetting. However, the openness of the unit’s staff and their ideas about what needs to change have been welcomed by the panel – and its important staff are supported to make these improvements, with their wellbeing a key consideration in the health board’s improvement plan.

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