Shrewsbury maternity deaths caused by repeated failures, inquiry finds

A review into maternity failings at an NHS trust has found more than 200 babies may have died due to repeated failures.

In 2016, 23 maternity cases at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust were brought to the attention of the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who ordered a review into the trust led by senior midwife Donna Ockenden.

Since then the investigation has grown enormously to include 1,862 cases, including stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and babies born with brain injuries. It has become the biggest maternity scandal in NHS history.

Here’s what the report concluded:

  • There were repeated failures in the quality of care at the trust between 2000 and 2019; mothers and babies died or suffered major injuries as a consequence
  • Staff were reluctant to perform caesarean sections, leading many babies to die during birth or shortly after, and there was ineffective monitoring of foetal growth
  • In many cases, mothers and babies were left with life-long conditions as a result of their care. Some babies suffered skull fractures, broken bones or developed cerebral palsy after traumatic forceps deliveries, while others were starved of oxygen and experienced life-changing brain injuries.

Bereaved families gathered together to hear the findings. Kayleigh Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died in 2016, said words from the trust “aren’t going to be enough.”

The health trust has apologised to affected families and described the report as “deeply distressing”. It said many changes highlighted by Ms Ockenden had already been introduced.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the trust, NHS and government accepted all 84 of the report’s recommendations.

Inez Brown, Head of Clinical Negligence at Medical Accident Group, said: “So many families have been waiting for this report for so long. It is saddening and distressing to learn of the catastrophic failures. It is extremely concerning that the deaths of hundreds of babies and babies being born with severe brain injuries could have been avoided if the Trust had delivered appropriate care.

“No amount of money can properly compensate a family for their loss of a child – we can only hope that the hospital has learned from the mistakes made then, so that others do not have to suffer in the same way in future.”

If you or somebody you know has received maternity care by this trust or any other trust which was unsatisfactory and would like to make enquiries in relation to a medical negligence claim, please call us on 0800 050 1668 or fill in the form below.

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Inez Brown, Partner

Head of Medical Accident Group, Inez has built her national reputation on a broad base of professional and exceptional client service. With a passion for using the law as a tool for social justice, she also contributes to membership of high-profile organisations including the Education Law Association, Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers, Birmingham Law Society, Royal Society of Medicine and more.

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