• HSIB will phase in its maternity incident investigations to cover England by March 2019
  • The watchdog will carry out investigations on behalf of NHS trusts
  • So far HSIB has recruited more than 60 investigators to join 14 teams nationally

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will not achieve national coverage of maternity incidents until March next year, it has told HSJ.

The new safety watchdog was asked by health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt to take over the investigation of serious maternity incidents from local trusts starting in April this year.

However, HSIB has warned that taking on the investigations will take time as it needs to recruit and train investigators.

As of this week HSIB said it had now recruited 66 of the 120 posts for maternity investigators along with 14 team leaders.

It will adopt a phased roll out of the programme with the aim of covering all trusts in England by March 2019. This is expected to cover around 1,000 incidents a year.

The new organisation will produce consistent reports and share its learning with each trust and staff in a bid to prevent maternity incidents in the long term.

It has started in the South region with the first 11 NHS trusts, including:

  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust
  • Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • East Sussex Healthcare Trust 
  • East Kent University Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust
  • Medway Foundation Trust
  • Dartford and Gravesham Trust
  • Frimley Health Foundation Trust 
  • Royal Surrey County Hospital Trust
  • Ashford and St Peters Hospital Foundation Trust 
  • Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust

Eventually 14 investigation teams will cover the whole of England. There will be three teams covering the south, four teams in the midlands and east region, three teams in London and four teams in the north region.

Investigations will start when a trust notifies HSIB of an incident involving a stillbirth, neonatal death within the first six days of life or a severe brain injury diagnosed within seven days of life.

It will also include maternal deaths that occur within 42 days of the end of pregnancy.