Birth injury lawyer Oliver Thorne assists BBC with investigation into maternity deaths
Oliver Thorne, who heads up the team here at childbirth injury solicitors, has been assisting the BBC with its investigation into the standard of maternity care at the North Devon District Hospital
The BBC’s investigation – which you can read here – is based on NHS reports it has obtained after winning access at a tribunal earlier this year.
Oliver told the BBC that he has acted in more than 20 legal cases involving the maternity unit at the hospital in Barnstaple, saying there had been a “decade of inaction” at the trust which runs it.
“I’m still getting cases referred to me involving the same issues… those families could have avoided the heartbreak they’re going through,” he added.
A 2017 review, which has never previously been released, raised “serious questions” about maternity care in North Devon
In 2013 a review was carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. They identified failings in working relationships at the unit. Some midwives were working autonomously while some senior doctors were failing to offer junior colleagues guidance.
Four years later an idependent review review into midwifery found “poor communication” between medical staff and a “lack of trust”, with senior midwives expressing anxiety over the quality of care in the unit. Some went so far as to say that they would’nt recommend the unit to women with complicated pregnancies.
Some senior hospital doctors at the maternity unit appeared “demotivated” and “deskilled”, with the report concluding that there had been a breakdown of relationships between medical and midwifery staff.
The Hospital Trust commeneted that progress has been made since the report was published, expressing regret at what had occurred and offering an apology.