A hospital trust has been ordered to strengthen its leadership and recruit more midwives following a Healthcare Commission investigation.

The commission inspected Milton Keynes Hospital foundation trust's maternity unit after an inquest in February found that systemic failures had contributed to the death of a newborn baby.

In its report, the commission said the trust needed to ensure that key senior posts were not allowed to remain vacant for long periods of time.

Inspectors recognised the trust had made efforts to increase the number of midwives and was planning a new building to increase capacity, but said more immediate action was needed.

Public reassurance

Nigel Ellis, the commission's head of investigations, said: "We want to reassure the public that if there was any reason for immediate action we would have taken it without hesitation.

"Our aim is to ensure that everything possible is being done to minimise risks to mothers and babies.

"The trust initiated this assessment and has worked with us to ensure that it was thorough and robust.

"It has demonstrated that it is committed to making necessary improvements, and has already begun to put these in place under a new head of midwifery."

Action plan

The trust must now devise an action plan to include all the commission's recommendations.
It will be closely monitored in the coming months, including spot checks, before a formal review next September.