Operation Lincoln is the West Mercia Police major investigation into maternity services at Shropshire & Telford NHS Trust.
Some families were part of both the previous Donna Ockenden Review (DOR) and are also part of Operation Lincoln. They are therefore eligible for referral to existing support services. However for families who are part of Operation Lincoln but not the DOR, there has been no specialist service provision to meet their support needs. There are currently up to 38 families identified as being without access to a specialist support service to meet their needs.
A proposal has been put forward to meet this need for support via Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust’s (MPFT) Lighthouse Service.
It is proposed that the Police and Crime Commissioner approve the following:
Support for entering into a spot purchase arrangement with MPFT to ensure access to specialist support for up to 38 families, through an existing contract with Telford & Wrekin Integrated Care System (ICS).
Allocation of £70,000 in funding towards this support provision, based on continuous provision for a 12 month period.
West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner
I hereby approve the above proposal.
PART 1 – NON-CONFIDENTIAL/EXEMPT FACTS AND FIGURES
The DOR started in summer 2017 and the final report was published in April 2022.
On 30th June 2020, formal announcement of the Operation Lincoln police investigation was made, to ascertain if there is evidence available that would reach the criminal threshold for prosecution for the offences of Corporate Manslaughter
Or Gross Negligence Manslaughter. This investigation is still ongoing, and due to the scale, is likely to continue for some years.
As part of the DOR, a 3 tier support service for families was provided by Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust, commissioned by the Department for Health. So far, the Op Lincoln team have worked very closely with the DOR team, to ensure that families identified as part of the Police investigation, have seamless access to support pathways.
The PCC Commissioning team have worked with the Telford & Wrekin ICS commissioners. MPFT have presented a business case for funding, to continue and extend ‘Lighthouse’, offering a psychological support service for those families who were not part of the DOR review, but are part of the existing Operation Lincoln investigation.
The PCC will use the Telford & Wrekin ICS contract to commission the service, developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to underpin the agreement.
Access to the right support services is regarded as vital to those who have been deeply personally affected by the events under investigation. It also viewed as supporting the operational policing investigation, as positive engagement with families may enhance the effectiveness of the police response and public confidence in West Mercia Police.
Lighthouse is the current service on offer in Telford & Wrekin which offers interventions for those who have experienced a traumatic birth or loss within the past five years and also for those experiencing a moderate or severe fear of childbirth. Lighthouse does not have current capacity to additionally offer a pathway specifically for families who are part of Operation Lincoln, which is the reason for the current request for an extra resource. In addition, there are also some families who don’t meet the referral criteria for the Lighthouse service.
The majority of individuals referred to the Lighthouse service have requested psychological intervention including:
• Trauma-focused interventions (trauma-focused CBT, EMDR etc.)
• Anxiety management interventions and emotional regulation strategies
• Grief and loss support (including CBT and compassion-focused interventions)
• Relational and transitional interventions (including support for couples/families, and thinking about adjustment after birth).
There are quality impacts and clinical risks associated with the absence of a specialist service for families during this period, namely:
• Families continuing to experience psychological distress as a result of their involvement in criminal proceedings relating to their maternity experiences, which potentially continues the legacy of trauma for this community both now and for future generations (e.g. intergenerational transmission of trauma where women are afraid to give birth due to the experiences of their own mothers or grandmothers).
• There is a quality impact to families as they are waiting to obtain treatment as there is currently an absence of service for this group. This will impact on their mental health as criminal proceedings progress.
The proposed increase of resource to the MPFT & Lighthouse services would be specific for the families involved in the Operation Lincoln investigation with West Mercia Police to offer therapeutic work, without quality being affected for families already accessing the service.
The phased approach to the integration would help to ensure sufficient resource is required as each case will be individual, with individual needs and individual session timeframes.
It is proposed that the Trust would review the contract and activity on a quarterly basis, with a half-way point to submit a further business case if it was thought that the service would be required beyond the 1-year contract period.
The recommendation would be for any service to run concurrently with ongoing proceedings and for any ending to be structured in advance so as to avoid re-traumatisation of families as a result of services ending.
The OPCC Commissioning team endorses and recommends the proposal, in that it delivers against identified needs in respect of specialist and tailored victim support, in a way that delivers value for public money.
The proposal is also supported by West Mercia Police chief officers.
This decision supports the following element(s) of the Safer West Mercia Plan:
☒ Putting Victims and Survivors First
☐ Building a More Secure West Mercia
☐ Reforming West Mercia
☒ Reassuring West Mercia’s Communities
The decision supports this/ these objective(s) through the following:
• Ensuring the right support for victims to cope and recover
• Effective listening and response to victim voices
• Ensuring victims are treated with care and compassion in all cases
• Supporting public confidence in the PCC, policing and other partners
• Effective collaboration with partners
BENEFITS AND THEIR REALISATION
- Victims feel and are supported throughout Op Lincoln investigation
- Public reassurance
- Potentially enhanced victim engagement with police investigation.
FINANCIAL AND TREASURER COMMENTS
The proposal is for an initial one-year funding agreement up to £70,000 for the provision of these services to victims.
Operation Lincoln has special grant funding from the Home Office. For 2023/24 this is expected to be set at a maximum of 70% of spend. The proposal is that all costs related to this service will be part of the total costs of Operation Lincoln from which special grant is claimed.
The difference between the cost of this service and the 70% funding from special grant will be funded from the commissioning reserve up to £25,000.
By virtue of schedule 11, paragraph 14 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 the Police and Crime Commissioner may do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the exercise of the functions of commissioner. That includes: entering into contracts and other agreements (whether legally binding or not) and acquiring and disposing of property (including land).
PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Information in this form is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) and other legislation. Part 1 of this form will be made available on the West Mercia Commissioner’s website. Any facts and advice that should not be made automatically available on request are not included in Part 1 but instead in a separate Part 2 report.
Chief Executive Officer