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Written on 3rd April 2023 by Richard Money-Kyrle

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s (HSIB) Maternity Investigation Programme will be hosted from October 2023 by health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The announcement was made in a Written Ministerial Statement, issued to Parliament on 30th March, last week. This change of plan overturns previous arrangements to establish the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority (MNSI)  which were then delayed by six months to October 2023 in an updating announcement by ministers less than two months ago.

No clear explanation has been given to say why preparations for MNSI have been abandoned. HSIB’s organisational transformation information has been updated to say that ‘the new hosting arrangement with the CQC replaces the previously announced plan to form the programme into a separate special health authority, the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations Special Health Authority (MNSI).’  The latest announcement suggests that the timescale for the transfer of HSIB’s maternity investigations will remain the same, with CQC hosting the maternity investigations programme from October 2023.

Once HSIB completes its transformation under the Health and Care Act to become the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB), it will no longer be able to investigate maternity safety incidents. This is because the new HSSIB will have enhanced powers to investigate patient safety incidents, including a secretive investigation process known as safe space, which cannot be used for safety incidents in maternity care resulting in mothers and babies losing their lives or babies suffering serious brain injury.

The most recent announcement suggests that the new CQC maternity investigation programme will have the same aims as were previously planned for MNSI, including:  

  • providing independent, standardised and family-focused maternity investigations for families;
  • providing local, regional and national level reports which help the healthcare system learn;
  • analysis of data to help the healthcare system learn;
  • becoming the system expert in maternity investigations standards;
  • working with system partners to escalate safety concerns.

HSIB’s national investigations programme, which currently investigates patient safety incidents in other areas of healthcare, will be taken over by HSSIB when it is established and becomes operational in October 2023.

If your child has cerebral palsy or neurodevelopmental delay as a result of medical negligence, or you have been contacted by HSIB or NHS Resolution, you can talk to one of our solicitors, free and confidentially, for advice on how to respond or make a claim, by contacting us here.