Maternity ward told to improve care
A maternity ward at the centre of a police investigation over a "number" of baby deaths could be forced to close if it does not make "rapid" improvements.
The police probe follows the death of Joshua Titcombe nine days after his birth at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria in October 2008.
An inquest in June ruled the baby died of natural causes but that midwives had repeatedly missed opportunities to spot and treat a serious infection.
Cumbria Police announced on Friday that it is to widen the scope of its inquiry after the release of a damning report into the labour ward by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC condemned University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust for its failure to improve standards.
Speaking on Saturday, Joshua's father James Titcombe, 33, from Dalton, Cumbria, said: "We have not been able to grieve because we have had to fight for the truth and fight to establish what happened. My life has stood still for three years. Every second of the day my mind has been on Joshua and seeing justice done for him, so it's been very, very hard."
Mr Titcombe said he could not comment on the police investigation but said that the findings of the CQC report mean that his family can finally start getting "some closure".
The trust was criticised by the CQC after inspectors carried out surprise inspections in June, and among six areas of concern highlighted were the suitability of maternity facilities and the degree to which staff worked together.
A spokesman for CQC confirmed it has the power to close the ward if it failed to meet standards. Further unannounced visits are planned to check on progress.
In response to the CQC report, Jackie Holt, director of nursing and modernisation at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: "There is significant evidence in this report that shows we have made vast improvements since the publicised case in 2008 and we are pleased that these have been recognised by the CQC." She added that the hospital has already begun to make many of the improvements identified in the report and action plans have been submitted to the CQC.