We want and value family consent to undertake maternity investigations.
We also recognise that this may be a difficult time for you and those close to you. By sharing your experience you'll help us to see where improvements can be made for the benefit of others.
We’ve made some changes to the way we carry out maternity investigations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following frequently asked questions aim to help explain these changes to families. If you’ve got any questions or concerns that are not answered below, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will my maternity case still be referred to HSIB?
Yes. NHS trusts are still required to make a referral to us as part of a national action plan to make maternity care safer.
Will my referral be progressed?
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been necessary for us to review the investigations we conduct. This means that we are not able to complete all investigations as set out in the HSIB Maternity Investigations Directions 2018. Your referral will be reviewed against a temporary criteria that has been agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care.
If you have agreed for us to contact you, we will discuss this further with you and explain what will happen next regarding your case.
What part of the criteria has HSIB changed?
Since 23 March 2020, we no longer routinely investigate maternity cases involving cooled babies where there is no apparent neurological injury following cooling therapy. This would normally mean a brain MRI showing no hypoxic damage (a type of brain injury that occurs when there is a disruption in supply of oxygen to the brain) and the baby demonstrating no ongoing neurological signs or symptoms.
Will HSIB still be conducting interviews with families to gain their account of what happened?
Following government advice, we will not be able to meet families face to face. However, speaking with you about your care is still very important to us. We will contact you and discuss the best way to do this, using technology where possible.
Will HSIB still interview staff at the hospital relating to the original referral?
We will continue to interview key staff and will do this remotely. This may take longer than usual due to the COVID-19 situation.
Will HSIB still be completing investigation reports?
We will continue to write our investigation reports once our enquiries are completed. We will discuss with you the best way to share the draft report with you.
Will HSIB be continuing my case that was referred before the outbreak of COVID-19?
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 many working practices have changed. We have stopped all face to face meetings and replaced these with phone or video calls. We will now review referrals against a temporary criteria that has been agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care. This may affect our decision to progress an investigation or the time it takes to complete your investigation. We will contact you and explain what this may mean for your particular circumstances.
The trust where you were treated will tell you about HSIB and ask for your agreement to share your contact details with us, so that we can get in touch with you. We aim to contact you within five working days of receiving confirmation that you have agreed to this. When we first contact you we will explain more about how we investigate.
We prefer our investigations to start within four weeks of an incident. We know that this is an incredibly difficult time for families, but we ideally like to start an investigation within this timeframe. Starting our investigation any later than this can reduce the quality of the evidence.
Families can choose how involved they want to be in our investigation. They can consent to allowing access to their medical records but then choose not to be involved at all if it’s too difficult. Or we can start, once the family consent to accessing medical records, and the family can then choose to get involved more (such as take part in an interview), when we’re further along in the investigation process.
In cases where the family does not give their consent for HSIB to access medical records, then it’s unlikely HSIB could investigate/produce a report. Responsibility for conducting the investigation then returns to the trust.
What to expect
We ask you to tell us what has happened, so we have a full understanding of all the facts. We understand it may be a difficult time and we’ll do all we can to support you and advise you of additional support you could access.
Our investigators do everything they can to put you at ease during the contact they have with you. They can be flexible on when and where to meet and try to make the contact work in a way that is right for you. For example, you might want to nominate another person to speak for you at times if you feel unable to do so yourself.
The investigation team will speak to key people involved. This is usually done through face-to-face interviews. If you would find it easier to be involved in a different way, for example in writing or over the phone, we can discuss different options.
We want our investigation to be as thorough as possible. This means we might need to speak to you (or a nominated person) more than once. If your contact details change it’s important to tell your investigator.
Dedicated point of contact
Our team is specially trained to work with families.
You’ll be given a named investigator as your dedicated point of contact along with how you can contact them or get a message to them.
Our team works Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and will try to respond to messages the same day during these times. If your named investigator is away for any reason, we’ll provide you with an alternative contact.
Your named investigator will keep you updated throughout the investigation.
Thorough investigations take time. The investigation team will tell you approximately how long the process might take.
When the investigation is finished, we’ll contact you to get your feedback on the draft report and then produce a final report.
The final report is anonymised and includes our safety recommendations.
The final report is shared with you, the trust and staff involved and any other appropriate organisations (for example, the local clinical commissioning group).
When your investigation is complete, we would appreciate your views on our investigation process. We use your feedback to review and improve the way we carry out investigations.
Your investigator will give you a paper copy of the questionnaire, or you can complete our online family feedback questionnaire.
All family members are welcome to give feedback, completing more than one questionnaire if needed.
You can give your name, or you can remain anonymous.
Further information is available to download in our family information leaflet.
The family information leaflet is also available to download in these languages:
Please speak with your investigator if any of your family requires this information in a different language or format. Other formats include easy read, large print and braille.