RCM comment on Invited Review of Maternity Services at Cwm Taf Health Board

on 30 April 2019 Safety

Today the Welsh Government has published a report on the Invited ‘Review of Maternity Services at Cwm Taf Health Board’. This morning The Welsh Cabinet Secretary also announced that the Health Board will be put in special measures.

Commenting, Helen Rogers, Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Director for Wales, said: “The RCM has voiced serious concerns over the safety of maternity services at Cwm Taf for some time so we are pleased to see this report.  It shows a service that has too many times failed the women, babies and their families that it cared for.

“It describes a fundamental and worrying lack of leadership and action at the highest levels in the health board. That again is a real concern especially given the repeated warnings from organisations such as the RCM and concerns raised in a previous report.

“There are very real problems in terms of having the right amount of staff, with access to the right training, to support the delivery of safe and high quality care. This in turn puts significant pressure on staff in the maternity service and does not support them to deliver the level of care that they want to. Too often the system and the leadership at the Health Board did not support staff to do their job to the best of their ability.

“There has also been, too often, a failure to act when things have gone wrong and for the Health Board leadership to respond to this. It is imperative that when serious issues or incidents occur that they are investigated and that lessons are learnt to try to prevent these from happening again. Failure of senior managers at the Health Board to act on an earlier report which flagged up significant problems is a particular cause for concern.

“Without question most staff at the Health Board are doing their best in what are obviously sometimes very difficult circumstances and this must be recognised.  

“The Health Board must now act on the recommendations of this report. It is imperative that this is done to firstly reassure the women and their families who are using the service that they will receive the safest possible, high quality care. It is also important that the Health Board supports and nurtures its staff so that they can do their jobs effectively, safely and with compassion.

“The Health Board has got to ensure that its maternity service is built around the needs of the woman, that it is resourced effectively and that it embeds real leadership and positive cultures across the service.  

“Women who are using the service need reassurance about their care and the Health Board must give this reassurance. Safety must always be the absolute priority for any health service.

“There were also behaviours outlined in the report that fall short of the standards we would expect to see. All health professionals must at all times treat the people they care for with kindness, respect and compassion. We must be very clear that to not do this is unacceptable. This should also of course extend to their colleagues.

‘However, when health professionals work in systems that often place them under significant pressure, which does not value its staff and which adopts a punitive approach when they raise serious concerns, this does not lend itself to support the types of behaviour we want to see.

“All health professionals go to work to deliver the safest and best possible care. The health service has got to provide the conditions in which to do that.”

“The RCM will continue to support its members in Wales through this process. The RCM will also actively work with staff at the Health Board and the Welsh Government to support a change in the workplace culture, and to foster multidisciplinary team working across all the health professionals working in the maternity services.

“We support the measures put in place by the Welsh Government and will work with them and the team sent into the Health Board.

The Report can be read at https://gov.wales/cwm-taf-morgannwg-maternity-services-put-special-measures-report-identifies-serious-failings.

The Written Statement on the report from Vaughan Gething, AM Minister for Health and Social Services can be read at https://gov.wales/written-statement-publication-report-independent-review-maternity-services-former-cwm-taf.

To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]

Note to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.