Staff shortages not linked to baby deaths

AN investigation into a neonatal unit in which three premature babies died has made 23 recommendations.

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An independent review was ordered amid claims that staff shortages were a contributory factor in the deaths of three infants at Wishaw General Hospital in South Lanarkshire.

However the report found no evidence that inadequate staffing had contributed to the deaths and praised infection control procedures.

But it warned that sickness absence had been a significant pressure within the unit during the time the babies were cared for between August 2013 to March 2014.

The report found that NHS Lanarkshire ran the busy unit below staffing levels set by the BAPM.

It said the recruitment of more specialised nurses and on call neo-natal consultants should now be an "ongoing priority".

It also recommended that a family counselling room should be created within the unit.

The review panel said it was a matter of "considerable regret" that the families of the three infants did not consent to an autospy to clarify the exact cause of death.

Rosemary Lyness, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals said: "The review has confirmed that good infection control practices are in place and that the nurse staffing establishment is in line with the national recommended levels and indeed exceeds the recommended nursing skill mix.

"We recognise, however, that there have been occasions of high activity which has coincided with high sickness levels and a number of vacancies, which has put the service under pressure.

"The recommendations within the report identify a number of areas which we will explore further to minimise the impact of peaks of activity."


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