Strict safety measures see double checks for all unborn baby heart readings at Barrow hospital

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Boss: Sascha Wells, director of midwifery at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust
Boss: Sascha Wells, director of midwifery at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust
7 August 2017 5:14PM

MATERNITY bosses within the area's hospital have already taken decisive action to ensure staff can properly monitor an unborn baby's heart rate after a national report found poor training contributes to the deaths of thousands of newborns every year.

Experts within the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have urged all hospital trusts to make sure midwives and doctors receive extra training on how to read a fetal CTG - also known as a trace - when pregnant women are admitted to hospital.

They claim anyone with a higher risk factor to their pregnancy or birth should be closely monitored to alert medics to signs the baby is in distress at the earliest opportunity.

But at Barrow's Furness General Hospital, at least two fully trained staff view every CTG recording in a bid to provide the safest care possible for mothers and babies across the area.

Sascha Wells, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust director of midwifery, said: “Over the last few years, our staff have worked with the community and our partners to improve the maternity services we offer to local women and families.

"Some of the specific things we have done are to ensure staff are properly trained in how to interpret fetal heart CTGs.

"This includes the use of the ‘fresh eyes’ or ‘buddy’ system for all intrapartum CTG assessments, as recommended by the Royal College of Gynaecologists and the ‘Saving Babies lives Care Bundle’ from NHS England.

"This means that every intrapartum CTG is read by two healthcare professionals."

The strict training regime in place to protect mothers and babies at FGH includes mandatory face to face training days for midwives and doctors in how to interpret CGT results during pregnancy, labour and immediately after birth.

Staff also used anonymised CTGs to reinforce the learning at regular intervals.

It follows a revolution in the way pregnant women and infants are cared for at the Dalton Lane site which found itself at the centre of the country's worst maternity scandal between 2004 and 2013.

Ms Wells added: "They also have to show evidence of attending external training, such as an accredited study day on the subject, which we support them to do."

Assessors from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists investigated the births of 1,136 babies who died or suffered brain injuries during or shortly after birth in 2015.

They concluded better care could have resulted in different outcomes for more than 550 children in the Each Baby Counts report, published in June.

What is an CTG?

A CTG is cardiocotography. It monitors the heart rate of an unborn baby.

How is it performed?

A band which detects the heart of the baby is placed around the mother's abdomen and recorded on a print out.

Why is it important?

An acceleration or deceleration of the heart rate can indicate the baby is in distress.

This warns clinical staff that intervention may be necessary to ensure a safe delivery.

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