Maternity inquiry still expecting to publish recommendation despite police probe
An inquiry report into maternity care at Shropshire's major hospitals is still expected to publish recommendations at the end of the year, despite the announcement of a police investigation.
Donna Ockenden, who has been leading an inquiry into maternity care at Shrewsbury & Telford NHS Hospital Trust (SaTH), said she does not expect the latest development to impact on the progress of her work.
She has also said her team will work with police to identify cases that may be relevant to their investigation.
It comes as West Mercia Police announced it was launching the investigation, called Operation Lincoln, to decide if there is evidence to support a criminal case against either the trust or individuals involved.
The investigation is looking at the "care of mothers and babies who died or suffered serious harm in a maternity care setting at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust between October 1, 2003 and the present day".
A web page has also been set up where parents can contact police with their concerns.
It states: "The care provided to mothers and babies who died or suffered serious harm following maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust is currently the focus of an independent police investigation.
"An independent review of maternity services at the trust is also currently underway. West Mercia Police are actively engaging with the independent review of maternity services to identify cases which meet the threshold for a police investigation.
"West Mercia Police will make contact with those families via the maternity review in due course. Any families who have significant concerns regarding their experience of maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust are encouraged to contact the independent review team by email on email@example.com."
Mrs Ockenden has been conducting her review since 2017, when the-then Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, ordered it to be carried out.
It came after parents Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, and Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths, wrote to him outlining their concerns.
In an update earlier this year Mrs Ockenden said 1,170 cases are now involved in the investigation.
Mrs Ockenden said she still expects her full report to be published next year, with recommendations towards the end of this year.
She said: "As the review progresses we will be working closely with West Mercia Police as well as with NHS Improvement and NHS England, and the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that families’ voices continue to be heard.
"We are currently working towards a release of initial findings and recommendations from the review later this year with the full report to be published in 2021.
“In the weeks ahead we will be in continued discussions with West Mercia Police with a view to identifying cases that may be relevant to the police investigation. In due course we will write to those families whose cases may be relevant to the police investigation to gain their consent to share contact details with the police.”
Responding to the police announcement Louise Barnett, chief executive at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), said they would co-operate fully with the investigation.
She 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."
Mrs Ockenden has said her team is available for families to talk to from 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, on 01243 786993. Families can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
She added that any families who wish to contact West Mercia Police directly with information regarding significant concerns about their maternity care and treatment at the trust can do so at MajorIncidentUnit@westmercia.pnn.police.uk or through the major incident public portal https://mipp.police.uk/operation/22HQ19D84-PO1, or by calling 101.
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