500 more cases included in maternity services inquiry

Almost 500 new cases have been added to an inquiry into maternity services in Shropshire.

It takes the total number of cases which are part of the independent inquiry into baby deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) to 1,862.

Failures in care at the trust have been described as the worst maternity scandal in the history of the NHS.

Rhiannon Davies with her daughter Kate, who died shortly after birth in 2009. Pic: Richard Stanton

Initially the review was set up to look at just 23 cases between 2009 and 2016.

Richard Stanton and Rhiannon Davies helped push for that investigation after their daughter Kate died just six hours after her birth in 2009.

An inquest confirmed her death could have been avoided if staff had picked up on warning signs during the latter stages of Ms Davies’s pregnancy and immediately after Kate’s birth.

Since then, hundreds more families have come forward, with cases including deaths of babies and mothers, and babies who have been left with permanent brain damage.

A further 496 families will now be contacted to confirm whether or not they wish the care they received to be reviewed.

Donna Ockenden, who is leading the investigation, said: “It’s now really important that we focus our efforts on getting all clinical reviews completed so that we can make meaningful recommendations to improve services and give families the answers they have asked for.

“We intend to have initial, emerging recommendations for maternity services published at the end of the year.

“In order to give ourselves the time to write the final report, any new cases that come to light from now on will need to go directly to the trust, for them to consider, rather than them coming to the maternity review team.”

Trust chief executive, Louise Barnett, has published an open letter today, in which she says: “I know that our standards of care have fallen short for many families and I apologise deeply for this.

“An apology is not enough. What needs to be seen is evidence of real improvement at the trust.

“This is why we are committed to listening to families, our community, and working with Donna Ockenden’s review to ensure lessons are learned and we have a service which the community and our patients can trust.

“We have made some progress in improving the standards of care for mothers and babies and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) now rates our maternity services as ‘good’ across three of the five standards (caring, effective and responsive).

“However, we recognise that we have further to go.”

A leaked report last year found that clinical malpractice was allowed to continue unchecked for 40 years at a trust with a “toxic” culture.

Last month, West Mercia Police announced it is also conducting an investigation to determine if there is evidence to support a criminal case against the trust.