Vaughan Gething AM - Minister for Health and Social Services
On 9 October 2018, I provided an Oral Statement to Assembly Members on the concerns relating to current maternity care provision in Cwm Taf University Health Board. In that statement, I committed to commission an external review of maternity services in Cwm Taf to be undertaken jointly by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives.
This review took place last week (15-17 January) when the team of reviewers spent three days in the health board speaking with families and staff. The initial findings were reported to the health board and the Welsh Government on Thursday 17 January 2019 and the full report will be published in the spring of 2019. The review team was asked specifically to provide advice on further actions needed to ensure that high quality, safe care is provided to mothers and babies and improve systems of governance and assurance in line with national standards and best practice.
Initial feedback from the review team identified a number of immediate quality and safety concerns. As a matter of urgency we have agreed a number of actions with the Royal Colleges and Cwm Taf to make immediate improvements to ensure the safety of maternity services. The health board took action before the weekend on some of the issues and we expect them to put other actions in place as a matter of urgency.
Welsh Government officials continue to work closely with the health board and are continuously monitoring progress of immediate actions put in place. Both Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and the Welsh Audit Office have been made aware of the initial findings. The health board continues to work closely with the Welsh Government Delivery Unit to review governance processes and ensure full investigation of incidents and transfer of learning.
A key focus of the work to date has been on ensuring appropriate midwifery and obstetric staffing levels, strong clinical leadership and improved governance arrangements. Welsh Government officials have been provided with assurance from the health board that current staffing levels are safe for both midwifery and obstetric cover. The health board is also actively recruiting into vacant posts for both midwives and obstetricians.
The safety and wellbeing of mothers and babies receiving maternity services at Cwm Taf remains our primary focus. As a parent myself, I understand the concern and anxiety that this will have caused parents who are currently using, and those who have previously used these services. I am absolutely committed to ensuring that the review findings provide improvements in service provision as recommended by the review team. I appreciate that this is a very difficult time for staff and I would like to commend them for their hard work, especially in the support they are providing to families at this time and the flexibility they are exhibiting in ensuring appropriate staffing levels across the service.
Women using maternity services rightly expect to receive good quality, safe care. Childbirth can be stressful, but also an experience that brings great joy. The welfare of mothers and their babies must be our main and immediate concern. I have been given assurance that clear, immediate actions are in place to ensure that women receiving maternity services in Cwm Taf can expect safe and compassionate care.
The full review will provide a more complete picture and I will update members when the report is published in the spring.