Maternity care review after death of baby at Ludlow Hospital

A major review is to be launched into maternity services in south Shropshire, prompted in part by the death of a baby at Ludlow Hospital.

The probe will be carried out by Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

It comes after an inquest last autumn found the baby daughter of Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, from Ludlow, might not have died had she not been born in the midwifery-led unit at the hospital in 2009.

The baby, named Kate, was delivered in March 2009 but it became apparent there were problems and she was transferred by air ambulance to Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, where she died six hours later.

Despite problems in the pregnancy Kate’s birth had been considered low risk. She was born a healthy weight on her due date.

When problems developed, the initial plan was to take the baby to Shrewsbury by road but a decision was then taken to fly her to Birmingham.

Neither Rhiannon nor Richard knew where their baby had been taken but were eventually called by the consultant paediatrician at Heartlands Hospital where Richard went by car, only just arriving in time to hold his daughter for five minutes before she died in his arms.

Both parents have since pressed for more choice in maternity care, particularly the option of consultant-led care.

Currently, expectant mothers can choose to have a baby at home, in their local midwife-led unit or when needed in the consultant-led unit at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

One of the complaints made by Miss Davies at the inquest was that women could often feel pressured to give birth at a closer midwife-led unit, even when they would prefer consultant care.

The CCG has stressed the review will not consider closure of local services and said it recognised that in such a rural area, access to services and patient choice was essential.

Dr Caron Morton, Shropshire CCG’s accountable officer, said: “As the local commissioners we are aware of the outcome of the inquest and this is one of a number of factors that have led to us looking at a review of maternity services. We want all mothers and their families to be confident that they will receive high quality care and choice.

“Although the review is not solely looking at the inquest, it will take on board the recommendations and learning as well as considering best practice in other parts of the country.

“We are currently considering how we can incorporate patient views into the review.”