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NHS England has given out just over half of the money trusts have requested for “immediate and essential” improvements in maternity services.

Trusts requested a combined total of £102m to carry out the actions outlined in the Ockenden Review into the Shrewsbury and Telford maternity scandal.

But NHSE has given out just £58m so far – despite promising £95m extra cash for maternity services earlier this year.

NHSE has said it has prioritised trusts most in need. Some trusts received even more than requested – these were mostly trusts with maternity services rated “requires improvement” or “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission.

But many missed out – some receiving as little as 12 per cent of the funding they requested. They included… Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust – the trust whose maternity failings sparked the review in the first place – which got just 36 per cent of what it asked for.

Trusts with maternity services which have better ratings have complained previously that “disproportionately” diverting money to services in the most need risks the “levelling down” of standards in others.

Safety risk

The failure of some acute trusts to report large numbers of hospital-acquired covid infections as patient safety incidents is concerning and could create a false assurance about the harm suffered, according to a charity.

In October 2020, NHSE issued guidance which said “probable” or “definite” hospital-acquired covid infections (which occurred either eight or 15 days after admission respectively), meet the definition of a patient safety incident.

But HSJ has examined the numbers of “infection control” patient safety incidents reported to the national reporting and learning system in 2020-21 and found them to be too low (read about our methodology in the full story here).

Some trusts said they are retrospectively updating their NRLS data, and flagged that some patient safety incidents could refer to multiple patients, thereby leading to apparent under-reporting.

Helen Hughes, chief executive of patient safety charity Patient Safety Learning, said: “The scale of the under-reporting set out in these findings is particularly concerning.”

“As this data informs assessment of performance at both organisational and national levels, it is possible that this could create a false assurance about the extent of harm in this period,” Ms Hughes said.