The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has this week published a report of its review looking into the issues highlighted by the case of Elizabeth Dixon, who died in 2001. It looked specifically at the management of newborn babies and infants with complex health conditions in hospital and in the community and drew on the areas of care that Elizabeth would have received.
The findings in the report are based on evidence sourced during inspection visits to 19 NHS acute hospital trusts in 2015, information from 16 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and eight long-term ventilation network leads working in the community. They also spoke with 11 parents or guardians of children with respiratory support needs living at home and receiving care in the community.
Outlined in the report are some good examples of specialist care being provided before and after birth, but also significant variations at a local level due to the limitations of current guidance and lack of shared best practice to help services provide the best care and support.
The recommendations made in the report focus on addressing this gap in current guidance and improving consistency of care for vulnerable babies.
Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, the premature and sick baby charity, said: "This report highlights failures in the handover of care of babies with complex health needs between antenatal, obstetric and neonatal services – which mirrors parents’ own concerns about poor communication between professionals. In a survey conducted last year of parents whose baby was admitted to neonatal care, over one third of respondents said they did not feel the maternity team communicated effectively with the neonatal team*.
"We therefore welcome the CQC’s recommendations to tackle inconsistencies in the care of vulnerable babies with complex health conditions, particularly where their care is shared between different teams. Bliss strongly supports the development of new clinical guidelines. Urgent action is now needed to ensure a seamless service for these vulnerable babies."
The full report can be viewed on the CQC website.
* National Maternity Review Online Survey Analysis – Survey on Loss and Complications. Available at: england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Consultation-Analysis-Report-2-access.pdf