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Shrewsbury maternity scandal: ‘Unimaginable trauma’ caused, says Javid as report details avoidable baby deaths

Follow updates as Shewsbury maternity scandal inquiry published

Zoe Tidman,Jane Dalton,Emily Atkinson
Wednesday 30 March 2022 17:58
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Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust ‘has significant amount of work to do’

The health secretary has said failures at an NHS hospital trust led to “unimaginable trauma for so many people” as a new inquiry shed light on the worst maternity scandal in the history of the British health service.

Sajid Javid also apologised after the report found 295 baby deaths or brain damage cases could have been avoided with better care. More than a dozen women also died.

The inquiry - led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden - looked into more than 1,000 incidents at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust over two decades.

It found the trust presided over catastophic failings during this time, which resulted in babies dying, suffering fractured skulls and other injuries, as well as causing harm to mothers.

Ms Ockenden said “failures in care were repeated from one incident to the next” and babies came to harm due to “ineffective monitoring of foetal growth and a culture of reluctance to perform Caesarean sections”.

Two years ago, The Independent revealed more than a dozen women and more than 40 babies died during childbirth at the trust due to a culture that denied women choice.

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Shrewsbury maternity scandal inquiry set to be published today.

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 07:06
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What can we expect?

Today is expected to be a “watershed moment” for maternity safety.

This is because the final report of the inquiry into the largest maternity scandal ever seen within the NHS is set to published and reveal failings in the care of hundreds of women and babies.

It s expected to refer to more than 1,600 incidents, with the majority categorised as either “significant” or of “major concern”, The Independent understands.

Our health correspondent, Rebecca Thomas, takes a look at what we can expect:

Shrewsbury maternity inquiry: Decades-long failings continue

‘When something isn’t right, just listen to the parents,’ says Nikhita Hose, whose son Caleb died in January 2021

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 07:19
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Full scale of harm revealed in 2019

In 2019, The Independent revealed dozens of babies and three mothers had died on the wards of the trust, in what was branded the largest maternity scandal to ever hit the NHS.

You can catch up here while waiting for the final report:

‘Largest maternity scandal in NHS history’: Dozens of mothers and babies died on wards, leaked report reveals

Exclusive: Clinical failings with catastrophic consequences repeated over period of nearly 40 years, resulting in avoidable deaths, serious injuries and then further trauma subsequently inflicted on grieving families

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 07:38
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‘Very shocking and sobering reading’

Tory MP Jeremy Hunt, who in 2017 ordered the Ockenden inquiry into mother and baby deaths at Shrewsbury when he was health secretary, said the numbers were “worse” than he could have imagined at the start of the process.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that initially there were 23 instances of concern.

He added: “I think it is important to say at the outset that the NHS facilitates the birth of nearly 600,000 babies every year and the vast majority are totally safe, and it’s getting safer. But this report, from what I’ve been able to glean, I haven’t seen it myself, is very, very shocking and sobering reading.”

PA

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 07:50
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Ockenden ‘to say very strong words’ about NHS staffing, Hunt says

Jeremy Hunt also said NHS staffing was “a very important issue” and the health service is short of thousands of midwives.

“I believe Donna Ockenden is going to say some very strong words about that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And I’m extremely disappointed that today the government looks at to vote down an amendment to the Health Bill, which has come back from the House of Lords, which would make sure that we didn’t have these kinds of staffing shortfalls.”

PA

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 08:01
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Hospital bosses tried to soften previous report, NHS found

An NHS investigation previously found hospital bosses at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust were more concerned with reputation management than addressing patient safety concerns in its maternity department.

Here is our report from the time:

Hospital bosses ‘softened’ damning Shrewsbury maternity scandal report

‘If any deaths have happened after this, then they have blood on their hands’

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 08:21
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Families await report publication

Families affected by the largest maternity scandal in NHS history are awaiting the publication of the inquiry later this morning.

Here is one family affected: Rev Charlotte Cheshire and her son, Adam.

Rev Charlotte Cheshire with her son Adam

Adam was left with severe disabilities after staff failed to administer antibiotics for seven hours when he caught an infection during birth in March 2011.

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 08:51
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Warning over care from 2020

Back in 2020, the chief inspector of hospitals shared a litany of concerns over the standards of care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust in a letter to NHS England.

He warned patients would be exposed to unnecessary harm unless action was taken.

Our heath correspondent at the time, Shaun Lintern, reported:

Shrewsbury hospital staff ‘appear not to know what good care looks like’

Care Quality Commission chief outlines ‘depth and breadth of concerns’ at scandal-hit hospital trust

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 08:57
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‘Almost obsessional'

“What seems to happened is the trust had a particularly strong focus on keeping caesarian births low to a degree that was almost obsessional,” Kim Thomas from the Birth Trauma Association says.

She gives her insight on the scandal ahead of the report publication:

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 09:12
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Interim report findings from 2020

An interim report into the Shrewsbury maternity scandal was published back in December 2020.

It found more than a dozen women and more than 40 babies died during childbirth at the trust because of a culture that denied women choice and subjected hundreds of families to unsafe care.

In some cases women had been medicated and forced to undergo traumatic forceps deliveries – leaving babies with fractured skulls and broken bones – because of a culture of trying to avoid deliveries by caesarean section.

You can read over it here ahead of the full report’s publication:

‘Woman left screaming for hours’: How midwives and doctors failed mothers and babies at scandal-hit hospitals

Inquiry report finds patients at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust were put in danger because of a culture that denied women choice

Zoe Tidman30 March 2022 09:31

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