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Monday, November 14, 2022

Shropshire maternity scandal: 300 babies died or left brain-damaged, says report | Hospitals

Three hundred babies died or were left brain-damaged due to inadequate care at an NHS trust, according to reports.

The Sunday Times has reported that a five-year investigation will conclude next week that mothers were denied caesarean sections and forced to suffer traumatic births due to an alleged preoccupation with hitting “normal” birth targets.

The inquiry, which analysed the experiences of 1,500 families at Shrewsbury and Telford hospital trust between 2000 and 2019, found that at least 12 mothers died while giving birth, and some families lost more than one child in separate incidents, the newspaper reported.

Donna Ockenden, an expert midwife who led the inquiry with the input of more than 90 midwives and doctors, said her team had been “shocked and saddened” by the scale of the tragedy.

Donna Ockenden, the former senior midwife who led an independent inquiry into baby deaths at the trust.
Donna Ockenden, the former senior midwife who led an independent inquiry into baby deaths at the trust.

The Ockenden report is expected to reveal that hundreds of babies were stillborn, died shortly after birth or were left permanently brain-damaged while many had fractured skulls or broken bones, or were left with life-changing disabilities.

Ockenden, who has more than 30 years’ experience in maternity services, told the Sunday Times: “There were numerous opportunities for the system to wake up and realise that there was a problem at this trust.

“There have been a number of occasions where families tried to be heard over many years and were silenced or ignored.

“We have seen families that have been split apart, families where relationships have been broken, cases of trauma and PTSD that have persisted for years after the event as well as terrible, terrible sadness.

“At times, after meeting families, I went back to my hotel room and I cried.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “Our health service constantly strives to provide safe and compassionate maternity services while delivering 1,600 babies each day and we have already taken significant action to transform our care for pregnant women and their babies – with an additional £127m to boost the maternity workforce and improve workplace culture for our staff announced earlier this week.

“This is on top of an additional £95m over the last year to establish 1,300 new maternity roles into the NHS alongside new training and leadership development programmes, and we have seen clear progress in improving outcomes and experiences for women and their families – but we recognise there is still progress to be made, and the NHS will be taking further action to ensure all women and babies are provided the best possible care.”

Angela McConville, chief executive of the parenting and childbirth charity NCT, said the organisation had reviewed its antenatal courses in 2019 with a framework that covers “all ways of giving birth”.

She added: “Our charity’s position today is to support parents to have the best possible experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.

“We are not here to give advice or to promote one way over another. We believe that safety for women and babies must be paramount.”

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