Hospital’s FOI delay ‘unjustified’

General election. Election Count. 06/07 May 2010. Huddersfield sports centre. Simon Reevell after beating Shahid Malik. (D07051081)
General election. Election Count. 06/07 May 2010. Huddersfield sports centre. Simon Reevell after beating Shahid Malik. (D07051081)

A REPORTER Series bid to have a details of baby deaths at Dewsbury and District Hospital made public has won the backing of an MP.

Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell said the public had a right to know about the findings of a Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust review of women’s services.

The confidential report includes details of an investigation into seven serious incidents at Dewsbury hospital during labour or involving neonatal deaths.

Mr Reevell also criticised the trust for taking more than 70 working days to give the paper any response to a Freedom of Information request for the report’s publication.

Mr Reevell (Con) said: “Whatever the explanation, that length of time just can’t be justified.”

In September, the Reporter Series submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act asking for the review to be released.

By law, the trust had 20 working days to release the report or explain why it would not do so.

But three months on, we are still waiting for a response and no explanation has been given for the delay.

Mr Reevell said: “If there’s a problem, they can’t just not get in touch and explain. To hear nothing just doesn’t help to give people confidence in the organisation.”

The seven serious incidents at Dewsbury hospital took place between November 2010 and February 2011.

On the agenda of a Wakefield District Primary Care Trust meeting, the incidents had been described as a ‘cause for concern’.

For that reason, they were added to an external review of gynaecology, obstetrics and midwifery services which the Trust had already commissioned.

The PCT agenda added that an analysis of the incidents had found three common themes. They were adherence to guidelines, documentation and interpretation of carditocographs, which monitor a baby’s heart rate during labour.

The trust said it had changed procedures and training following the review, but refused to issue the report in full.

Mr Reevell, who wanted the report released at the time, said: “I think it’s important for reassurance.

“Firstly, so that people know it’s a thorough report, and secondly, for monitoring. When we know what the recommendations were, we’re in a good place to see them put into practice.

“I think the public is entitled to know.”

The Reporter Series is now lodging a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office, which was set up to uphold information rights in the public interest.