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Criminal investigation launched into Shropshire NHS trust at centre of inquiry into baby deaths

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

A criminal investigation has been launched into the Shropshire NHS trust at the centre of an inquiry into baby deaths.

West Mercia Police says officers have met NHS chiefs and the chair of the independent inquiry into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Donna Ockenden.

Officers are investigating alleged poor care at SaTH as the independent review, looking into more than 1,100 cases, is ongoing.

Police have confirmed that an investigation will be conducted to explore whether there is evidence to support a criminal case either against the trust, which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, or any individuals involved.

Assistant chief constable Geoff Wessell, from West Mercia Police, said: “Today we have met with NHS Improvement, The Department of Health and the independent reviewer to discuss complaints made against Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust in relation to maternity services and provision.

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"The independent review is ongoing.

“We can confirm that a police investigation will be conducted to explore whether there is evidence to support a criminal case either against the trust or any individuals involved.

"The investigation is now live so we are unable to comment any further at this time.”

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Louise Barnett, chief executive at SaTH, said: We are aware that a police investigation will be conducted by West Mercia Police to explore whether there is evidence to support a criminal case either against the trust or any individuals involved, following complaints made against the trust in relation to maternity services and provision. We will fully cooperate with the investigation.

"I would like to reassure all families affected that we are listening and acting on feedback.

"We are not able to comment further to avoid prejudicing the investigation."

Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton

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The independent inquiry was launched in 2017 following the efforts of Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, whose daughter Kate died shortly after birth in 2009, and Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died shortly after birth in 2016.

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 SaTH.

It was thought the inquiry's final report would be published later this year but Ms Ockenden said the situation will now have to be reviewed following the pandemic.

In a statement Mrs Davies and Mr Stanton welcomed the decision from the police.

Concerned

They said: “We are extremely thankful the police have taken the decision to investigate. We know they will leave no stone unturned.

"If any family is concerned about the care they have received now is the time to come forward if they haven’t already.

"As the police do their essential work and the Ockenden Review team works in parallel we are hopeful that maybe one day Kate’s legacy will be realised and the mothers and babies harmed and lost will have accountability and that the mistakes made will never happen again.

"As this is a criminal investigation we will not be commenting further."

Anyone with any information in relation to this issue, who hasn’t already been in touch with the review team, is asked to contact either the police at MajorIncidentUnit@westmercia.pnn.police.uk or the major incident public portal at mipp.police.ukoperation/22HQ19D84-PO1 or by calling 101.

Alternatively you can contact the independent review team at maternityreview@donnaockenden.com

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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