Shewsbury maternity scandal: Families ‘silenced’ after 300 babies died or left brain damaged, inquiry to find

Final report of independent review of maternity services at NHS Trust will be published on Wednesday

Aine Fox
Sunday 27 March 2022 02:23
(Jacob King/PA)
(Jacob King/PA)

Families have been “silenced or ignored”, a former senior midwife leading a major inquiry into maternity care has said ahead of her report’s publication.

Three hundred babies died or were left brain damaged due to avoidable errors in care, the independent review will state when published this week, according to the Sunday Times.

Baby deaths and allegations of poor maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) have been reviewed by the Ockenden independent inquiry.

Donna Ockenden is the former senior midwife leading the inquiry

The inquiry was set up in 2017 by the then health secretary Jeremy Hunt and is reviewing 1,862 families’ experiences.

It is led by Donna Ockenden, who is currently the senior midwifery adviser to the chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

At least 12 mothers died while giving birth and some families lost more than one child, the Sunday Times said the report will show.

The newspaper quoted Ms Ockenden as saying: “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.”

She added: “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 interim report published in December 2020 highlighted a range of failures including not properly listening to parents. The review said maternity staff had caused distress to patients by using “inappropriate language” and blaming grieving mothers for their loss.

A spokeswoman for the team involved in the final report, due to be published on Wednesday, said they would not be making any comment before then.

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