4 September 2020 ~ Safety of maternity services in England – Health and Social Care Committee Inquiry – Closing date

Recurrent failings in maternity services and what action is needed to improve safety for mothers and babies is the focus of this new inquiry launched by the Health and Social Care Committee.

The Safety of Maternity Services in England inquiry will examine evidence relating to ongoing concerns despite the substantial amount of work carried out in recent years.

The Committee will build upon investigations that followed incidents at East Kent Hospitals University Trust and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust, as well as the inquiry into the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

MPs will also consider whether clinical negligence and litigation processes need to be changed to improve the safety of maternity services, as well as the extent to which a “blame culture” affects medical advice and decision-making.

This inquiry is currently accepting evidence

The committee wants to hear your views. We welcome submissions from anyone with answers to the questions in the call for evidence.

You can submit evidence until Friday 4 September 2020.

Go to https://committees.parliament.uk/work/472/safety-of-maternity-services-in-england/


August 4, 2020

30 October 2020 ~ CPS Public consultation – Guidance on pre-trial therapy – Closing date

The CPS is conducting a public consultation on the draft guidance on pre-trial therapy which  replaces and combines earlier guidance the “Provision of Therapy for Child Witnesses Prior to a Criminal Trial” and the “Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable or Intimidated Adult Witnesses prior to a Criminal Trial”, 2002.

The revised draft operational practice guidance has been developed with the assistance of the psychologists, therapists, police, government departments, voluntary sector providers and other experts in the field.

The revised guidance is intended to be a practical document to assist in ensuring that victims receive the therapy they require while supporting therapists, investigators and prosecutors successfully to navigate the legal and procedural issues that can arise where a victim has received/is receiving therapy or is deciding whether to receive therapy.

The Ministry of Justice is developing an ‘easy read’ version of this document which will be specifically designed to ensure that victims understand the key messages contained within this guidance.

Please read the ‘Guidance on Pre-trial Therapy’ including the questions to which we would like feedback, and let us know what you think.

Consultation content

The consultation seeks views on the following questions that relate to key objectives of the revised guidance:

  1. Will the revised guidance and, in particular, the key message that therapy should not be delayed for any reason connected with a criminal investigation or prosecution, encourage victims to obtain the therapy they need in a timely fashion?
  2. Will the revised guidance assist in addressing the perception that therapy will damage the prosecution case?
  3. Will the revised guidance assist in raising awareness of how a traumatised victim may present?
  4. Will the revised guidance including the content of Annex A assist in raising awareness about different forms of trauma-based therapy?
  5. Is the revised guidance covering therapies that might cause difficulties at pages 12 and 13 accurate, useful and comprehensive?
  6. Is the revised guidance for therapists at pages 5 and 6 covering discussions with a victim prior to the commencement of pre-trial therapy accurate, useful and comprehensive?
  7. Does the revised guidance including Annex B provide sufficient clarity to therapists around how to record a disclosure of criminality made by a victim during the course of therapy?
  8. Does the revised guidance provide sufficient clarity to therapists around procedures to follow when called upon to assist with a police investigation?
  9. Does the revised guidance provide sufficient clarity around the circumstances when an investigator might seek access to pre-trial therapy notes during the course of an investigation including the importance of avoiding speculative enquiries?
  10. Does the revised guidance provide sufficient clarity around the process that should be followed when an investigator seeks access to pre-trial therapy notes including obtaining the victim’s informed consent?
  11. Does the revised guidance provide sufficient clarity around the circumstances when an investigator will be required to pass material contained within pre-trial therapy notes to a prosecutor?
  12. Does the revised guidance provide sufficient clarity around the circumstances when a prosecutor might be required to disclose material contained within pre-trial therapy notes to the defence and how, during that process, consideration is given to the consent of the victim?
  13. Do you have any other feedback you wish to share around how the revised guidance could be improved?

Next Steps

After the consultation closing date, we will consider every individual response received. A summary of the consultation responses will be published on the CPS website in accordance with the Government’s guidelines.

We look forward to receiving your response.

Closing date: 30 October 2020

Full details and how to respond @ https://www.cps.gov.uk/consultation/public-consultation-guidance-pre-trial-therapy

See also:

August 4, 2020

Lack of funding threatens National FGM Centre’s future – despite thousands of UK FGM cases

Extra funding must be found to keep the centre tasked with ending new cases of FGM in England, and supporting survivors, open as NHS figures reveal cases recorded as happening in England have risen by 625% in the past five years.

According to the statistics released by NHS Digital, there were 6,590 women and girls who either had a procedure to treat their FGM or were identified as having undergone FGM previously when they were treated between April 2019 and March 2020.

Of those, the FGM happened in England in 145 cases.

This is compared to 20 cases in the financial year 2015-16 when the NHS started recording this data. In that year there were a total of 6,195 individuals treated for FGM.

Some 85% of cases recorded in England during the past financial year are classified as ‘type 4 FGM’, which includes piercings. These are considered a form of FGM by the World Health Organisation.

Most occurrences of FGM only come to the attention of medical professionals years after they have happened – usually when a woman has an appointment with a gynaecologist, obstetrician or a midwife.

This means most of the FGM recorded by NHS Digital for the past financial year did not happen in the past year. But the National FGM Centre says it is working to protect girls from undergoing FGM in England every week.

Since being opened in 2015 the centre, which is run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, has safeguarded 742 girls who were at risk of FGM – that’s around three girls a week. It has also supported 341 survivors.

Funding initially came from the Department for Education and this has gradually been scaled back with the intention that the centre would become self-sufficient by being paid by local authorities to provide services.

This was a reasonable proposition when the centre was first opened, but given the reduced level of funding for councils, this has had an impact on their ability to fund things like the centre making the self-sustaining model unattainable.

Part of a longer news story at https://www.charitytoday.co.uk/national-fgm-centres-future-in-jeopardy-despite-thousands-of-uk-fgm-cases/

August 4, 2020

Parents under pressure as virus limits childcare options – Bank of Scotland Research

  • More than one in four parents feel unable to ask for childcare help from loved ones as a result of pandemic
  • 15% of parents require additional childcare help from friends and family this year as they continue to juggle parenting and work responsibilities
  • Grandparents now providing £3,770 worth of childcare a year

While more than two-fifths (44%) of parents rely on grandparents for childcare support, more than a quarter (27%) feel they can no longer be as dependent on family and friends, due to ongoing health and safety concerns around the pandemic.

New How Scotland Lives research from Bank of Scotland revealed that whilst some parents are considering keeping their children away from their grandparents through the summer months in order to keep them safe from the virus, grandparents themselves seem less concerned, with just one in 10 (10%) expecting to do less childcare, and almost half (46%) expecting their usual school holiday childcare duties to stay the same. In fact, 12% of grandparents who do not usually take on childcare, have offered to do so in order to support their own children.

Staying indoors

Despite ongoing concerns, the circumstances of 15% of parents mean they are having to be more reliant than they would usually be on friends and family this summer, as they continue to balance work and home life commitments.

Parents who are allowing grandparents to take on childcare responsibilities this summer have shown real concern around how time together should be spent, which has led to the ruling out of several of the typical summer activities, in light of ongoing social distancing restrictions. There has been a significant reduction in the number of parents allowing trips to the cinema (-26%), holidays (-21%), theme parks (-7%), and swimming (-4%) due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Instead, they are more encouraging of activities that keep everyone in open spaces, such as picnics (+6%).

Part of a longer press release at https://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/Media/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/bank-of-scotland/parents-under-pressure-as-virus-limits-childcare-options/

August 4, 2020

Victim’s Commissioner for London comments on Family Courts

“I welcome the report from the review of Family Courts. It validates what I have been hearing for many years from survivors of domestic abuse, whose voices and experiences have been minimised and dismissed during Family Court proceedings which has played a part in causing further harm and trauma. Nothing short of an urgent major overhaul is needed in the Family Courts and I’m pleased to see the government has not shied away from the fact that systemic change is needed.

“The recommendations in the Implementation Plan – such as extending special measures to family courts and stronger powers around obtaining barring orders against perpetrators who use proceedings to continue abuse – will go some way towards protecting survivors of domestic abuse and help to ensure that their voices are heard in the courts. The Integrated Domestic Abuse Courts pilot could help to tackle the disconnect between the criminal and family courts. All of this should lead to better, safer decision making for survivors and their children.

“However, the pro-contact culture has driven much of the harm we see being done in family court decisions and we cannot wait for the further review on the presumption of parental involvement when we know too many lives are at risk of serious harm now. Crucially, the courts should not allow parental responsibility or contact with the perpetrator when they have a conviction, are subject to a restraining order, or where it’s been proven that they pose a serious risk of harm to that individual and the child.

“The review has rightly identified a lack of resources as central to the issues we see in the Family Court, something which cuts across the entire justice system. If the government is truly committed to bringing about change for domestic abuse survivors, they must put their money where their mouth is.  Non-means tested legal aid should be made available for domestic abuse cases, to ensure all victims have access to suitable representation and their legal rights are safeguarded.

“They must also increase the funds available for Independent Domestic Violence Advocates. There is already a shortfall of these vital roles in London and as their role in the courtroom rightly increases (as proposed in the report), additional resource will be required to deliver this support.

“The Domestic Abuse Bill is a landmark opportunity for us to put these protections in place swiftly for survivors and their children and I hope to see further amendments from the government to bring these recommendations into force.”

Claire Waxman, Victims’ Commissioner for London.



August 4, 2020