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Shropshire maternity scandal: 900 cases now under review

By Lisa O'Brien | Shrewsbury | Health | Published: | Last Updated:

The independent inquiry into maternity care at Shropshire's major hospitals is now looking at 900 cases, it has emerged.

Nadine Dorries, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, revealed the news during a debate on the Ockenden review in the House of Commons on Wednesday night.

It comes after a leaked report into the inquiry last year revealed a catalogue of concerns and that dozens of babies and mothers are thought to have died or been left disabled due to poor care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital.

The debate in parliament was called by Telford MP Lucy Allan, who said the interim findings showed there had been "serious failings".

In November, the inquiry was looking at more than 600 cases linked to poor care at the trust going back 40 years.

But Ms Dorries revealed during the debate that more families had now come forward with concerns.

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She said: "Additional cases have been identified and a total number stands now at 900 cases.

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"These have been filed for a number of reasons, looking at previous incidents that were reported at the hospital, parents who have been brave enough to come forward and tell their own experiences.

"Nine hundred cases in terms of a review will take considerably longer in terms of time and that is why there has been no report so far.

"And also, in terms of the interim findings it wasn't 600 at all, the number is greater.

"It is appropriate that while this very important body of work is taking place that we don't influence it or comment on it, and that we let Donna Ockenden get on with her work, which is vitally important and essential."

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She said steps had been put in place to make improvements at the trust and she wanted to meet the interim chief executive and make sure they are working.

Ms Dorries said the review is expected to conclude by the end of the year and the objective was to make sure such tragic cases are not repeated anywhere else in the future.

Concerns

During the debate, Ms Allan said: "What has come to light at SaTH suggests there may be systemic problems within the NHS and within maternity care and there are without doubts significant concerns about the lack of transparency and openness around what went wrong.

"The Ockenden review was set up two-and-a-half years ago to look at 23 possible cases of maternity malpractice at SaTH.

"So far there has been no formal published findings however in November last year interim findings were leaked to the media.

"These findings show not only had there been some very serious failings indeed, uncovered by this review, but the scale of the malpractice and the number of women and babies affected by it exceeded anything that had been expected when the review was initiated."

She said the concerns had been dismissed and poor care was "normalised".

Speaking during the debate, Ludlow MP Philip Dunne said: "One of my concerns, in addition to getting to the bottom of what has happened over a long period of time, is that we need to be assured as local members of parliament serving our constituents today that the maternity services available to people in Shropshire are safe and of high quality.

"I think it would be helpful if in some way given the scale of the inquiry that Ockenden is undertaking, there could be some interim finding given to the current state of practice in Shropshire and Telford today so that at least expectant mums who are proposing to use those services can feel reassured by that, and that it doesn't prevent a more detailed enquiry going back into past practice."

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who ordered the review in 2017, thanked Ms Allan for her "tireless campaigning on this issue" and said the most important thing is to look at what went wrong at SaTH and to learn the lessons for the whole NHS.

He said the rise in cases was "deeply shocking".

The inquiry was launched following the efforts of Rhiannon and Richard Stanton Davies, whose daughter Kate died shortly after birth in 2009, and Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died shortly after birth in 2016.

Paula Clark, interim chief executive at SaTH, said: "The 900 cases referred to in the adjournment debate in parliament clearly include families who have suffered loss, for which we are truly sorry, as well as families who have come forward with questions and concerns who are seeking reassurance and information, some of which date back to the 1960s.

"We remain committed to working with the review to help all the families get the answers they need in one all-encompassing final report.

"We would like to reassure all families using our maternity services that we are listening and acting on feedback.

"We have made improvements which have been reported by the Care Quality Commission following their inspection in November 2019."

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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