Shrewsbury maternity scandal: Hundreds more cases revealed after trawl of paper records

Independent inquiry could examine more than 1,500 cases of alleged failings at scandal-hit hospital

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Friday 10 July 2020 20:04
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The trust is also facing a criminal investigation into the alleged maternity failings
The trust is also facing a criminal investigation into the alleged maternity failings

Hundreds more cases of maternity failings have been identified at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust after hospital chiefs carried out a review of paper records not previously examined, The Independent has been told.

This could mean the tally of cases being investigated by an independent inquiry examining poor care at the trust surpasses 1,500.

In November last year, The Independent revealed the scale of failings at the trust in the largest maternity scandal in NHS history.

A leaked interim report by the inquiry team said at least 42 babies and three mothers had died between 1979 and 2017, with more than 50 children suffering permanent brain damage. Since then the numbers have increased substantially as more cases and families have come forward.

The trust is also facing a criminal investigation into the alleged maternity failings after West Mercia Police announced last week it would be looking to gather any evidence against individuals or the organisation.

It has now emerged bosses at the hospital were asked in May this year by Donna Ockenden, who is leading the independent inquiry, to go back over paper records to search for cases between the years 2000 and 2011.

The Independent has been told this has turned up approximately 300 more cases, which may involve babies having died or been disabled at birth due to mistakes in their care.

These will be in addition to 1,250 already being examined by the Ockenden team and which include dozens of baby deaths and children suffering permanent brain damage.

Sources said the final figure was not yet known because there needed to be a process to remove duplicate cases and families who did not wish to take part in the review.

Maggie Bayley, interim chief nurse at the trust, said: “In 2018 NHS Improvement commissioned an ‘open book’ review and SATH [Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust] was requested to ‘open its books’. The NHSI terms of reference for this process stated that it should be carried out as far as reasonably practical with the available data. Electronic systems were therefore used for this.

“In May 2020 the Ockenden Review team asked the trust to search other records for cases between the years 2000 to 2011, that may not have been captured by NHSI’s open-book review or family self referral, so that any potential new cases can be considered by the Ockenden Review team. We have done this and are now going through a checking process with the Ockenden Review team of the additional cases we have found to ensure that there is no duplication.

“We continue to cooperate fully with the Ockenden Review team and are in regular contact with them to provide all requested information.”

Last week, the Care Quality Commission revealed it had “new and ongoing concerns around patient safety” at the trust following an inspection in June.

These concerns extended beyond the trust’s maternity services and include care on its medical wards.

The trust has been repeatedly rated inadequate and remains in special measures.

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