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NMC blasts 'lack of midwifery supervision'

Supervising midwives at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundations Trust failed to fully protect mothers and babies as they were too concerned with supporting their colleagues, a report shows.

The findings are the result of an unannounced visit by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) from 18-20 July 2011, jointly carried out by the Care Quality Commission.

"We were concerned to note a culture at Furness General Hospital Maternity Unit of supporting midwives and past midwifery practice, rather than focusing on what needs to be done to fulfil the primary purpose of supervision which is protecting mothers and babies," said the report.

"Our concerns have been raised with the local supervising authority midwifery officer (LSAMO), who is now taking steps to address these through an action plan."

The NMC also blasted the Trust over a "lack of knowledge from senior medical and midwifery staff" about what was on the live maternity register.

The review team was not able to obtain a copy of the register, as access was dependent on a staff member on annual leave.

"For there to be such restricted access and lack of knowledge about identified risks on the register is indicative of a failure to appropriately recognise the value and purpose of a risk register which poses a risk to the public," said the report.

The report provided a total of 19 recommendations for the Trust board, the local supervising authority and the supervisors of midwives.

The NMC said there are some "clear challenges" for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and the supervisors of midwives.

However, the regulator has said it has been "assured" by the leadership and approach demonstrated by the newly appointed head of midwifery.

The NMC plans to continue to monitor the progress of the Trust over the coming months "to seek assurance that improvements are continuing to be made". 

Nursing and Midwifery Council