Shropshire

Shropshire baby deaths: Review cases rise to 215

A newborn baby
Image caption The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust says it is co-operating fully with the review

More than 200 families have raised concerns about maternity care at a hospital trust being investigated over a cluster of deaths and injuries.

The government-ordered review into Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (SaTH) has now widened for a third time after initially focusing on 23 cases.

The trust said 215 families have questioned the care they received.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock put the trust in special measures less than a week ago amid patient safety concerns.

In August the scope of the review into alleged maternity failings between 1998 and 2017 was expanded to look at 40 cases.

Soon after it was further broadened to take in 100.

It is understood not all the new cases relate to death and serious harm and some fall outside the scope of the review.

How have families reacted?

Image copyright Richard Stanton
Image caption Kate Stanton-Davies, pictured with her mother Rhiannon, was born at Ludlow Community Hospital

Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, whose daughter Kate Stanton-Davies died in March 2009 hours after birth, said they were "unsurprised" by the number of families who have raised concerns.

"We were in no doubt that the review would find further cases because the cases we identified were in the public domain at the time when we asked Jeremy Hunt to launch an inquiry," Ms Davies said.

"We are unsurprised by the recent news as we have known for so long what is underlying all this is a trust that has refused to learn."

Ms Davies said she disagreed with the trust that the issue was "a legacy problem".

"Cases are continuing, problems are continuing and the trust is continuing to defend and deny what has been going on.

"But we do find some comfort in that the review is continuing to show what we knew all along.

"We are grateful to Jeremy Hunt and to Donna Ockenden and her team for listening to us on this. This is all in Kate's name, this is her legacy.

"This all should have stopped in 2009 but we have had to fight and we will continue to fight until it stops."

The trust was already reporting to the Care Quality Commission because of concerns about maternity and emergency services at its two sites - The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and The Princess Royal in Telford.

Dr Kathy McLean, from NHS Improvement which is overseeing the review, said: "Every possible case has and will be taken into account as part of the investigation, to help ensure that lessons are learnt."

The trust said it was co-operating fully with the review, which is being led by midwife Donna Ockenden.

Analysis

By Michael Buchanan, BBC social affairs correspondent

Image caption Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust was placed in special measures last week

This is now shaping up to be one of the biggest crises in maternity care in the history of the NHS.

The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust told BBC News that 215 families had now come forward questioning maternity care, many are alleging significant errors.

Of the 91 who've submitted their concerns directly to the trust, 36 said their babies had died and 22 alleged their children had suffered permanent harm.

While not every family who has come forward with questions about the care they received will have been failed, long standing problems at the trust, including an inability to hire enough staff and a culture that failed to place much, if any, emphasis on learning from incidents, continues to see more families come forward.

Many see the Ockenden Review as their final chance to answer the questions they've long harboured.

The trust have tried to paint this all as a legacy problem, but some of the deaths now being investigated happened as recently as last December.

And concerns about current maternity care, as well as A&E services and a loss of trust by regulators in the management's ability to improve care, all contributed to the trust being placed in special measures last week.

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