Police launch investigation into high rate of baby deaths at Countess of Chester Hospital

Inquiry into 15 infant deaths at Countess of Chester hospital that took place between June 2015 and June 2016

Katie Forster
Thursday 18 May 2017 11:14 BST
The Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester
The Countess of Chester Hospital in Chester (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Police have launched an investigation into the deaths of 15 babies at a hospital in Chester.

The unusually high rate of infant deaths at Countess of Chester hospital took place between June 2015 and June 2016, according to Cheshire Police.

“Cheshire Constabulary has launched an investigation, which will focus on the deaths of eight babies that occurred between that period where medical practitioners have expressed concern,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Nigel Wenham.

“In addition the investigation will also conduct a review of a further seven baby deaths and six non-fatal collapses during the same period."

DCS Wenham said the force had been contacted this month by the hospital about the matter. “This was in relation to a greater number of baby deaths and collapses than normally expected during the period of June 2015 and June 2016,” he said.

“The hospital also made the constabulary aware of a number of independent reviews that they had commissioned into these deaths.”

He said further details could not be provided as the investigation was in its early stages, adding: “We recognise that this investigation will have a significant impact on all of the families involved, staff and patients at the hospital and the public.

"Parents of the babies are being updated on the investigation and will be supported throughout the process by specially trained officers. We are committed to carrying out the investigation as quickly as possible."

The news comes after Jeremy Hunt announced last months a cluster of baby deaths at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust would be investigated.

At least seven infant deaths at the hospital were deemed “avoidable” at coroners' inquests or in other lines of enquiry.

Failure to properly monitor the heartbeats of the babies during labour was a contributory factor in at least five of the deaths.

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