Shropshire maternity scandal: Action is testament to legacy of our daughters, say families

Two families whose campaigning revealed Shropshire's maternity scandal say an NHS commitment to spend more than £90 million on improving safety will be a testament to the legacy of their daughters.

Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton
Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton

The move, which is expected to include the recruitment of hundreds more midwives, around 80 consultant obstetricians, and millions for training, is a direct response to the findings of the Ockenden Report, which investigated maternity services at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).

The first stage of the report, published last December, revealed a succession of harrowing findings about the experiences of families at the trust.

It made a series of recommendations for improvements at SaTH, but also across the country.

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The review was ordered after parents Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, whose daughter Kate died shortly after birth in Ludlow in 2009, and Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths from Myddle, who lost their daughter Pippa shortly after she was born in 2016, wrote to the then Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt outlining their concerns about the trust.

The initial letter led to the investigation of 23 cases, but has expanded to look at more than 1,800.

Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died

Reacting to the NHS decision, Ms Davies said that it would mean her daughter's legacy would be sparing hundreds of families the pain that they have experienced.

She also paid tribute to all the families involved in the battle for accountability, as well as those who fought to expose the scandal at Morecambe Bay, and other maternity failings across the country.

She said: "This means a huge amount to us and individually we feel very much this is a huge positive impact that Kate's life has had that will lead to positive change."

She added: "This will make a positive discernible difference to maternity outcomes for women up and down England.

"We can now know that as a result of this additional funding, that because of Kate and other families, babies' lives will be saved."

Mrs Griffiths said: "All those years ago we just wanted it not to happen to anyone else and strangely I didn't think there would ever be money linked to it, that the investment would be this huge.

"That we feel we have been listened to is brilliant, it has made all the fight worthwhile.

"And although it is still a huge, huge sadness for us we have made sure that all the lives that have been lost, it has not been completely in vain. Change will come about and that is what is important for us."

Mrs Griffiths said the changes would lead to a huge legacy for both Kate and Pippa.

"I suspect even though they were only here for such a short period of time the difference those tiny lives have made is massive. Their small lives have made more of a difference than most of us will in our lifetime.

"It is a huge huge legacy for them even though they were only here for a matter of hours."

At its board meeting NHS England approved a paper which outlined its plans – saying there will be a focus on increasing the numbers of staff across the country.

Rhiannon Davies with her daughter Kate Stanton Davies

The paper approved stated: "As a first step, we are also investing £95m in the three overarching themes that have been identified; workforce numbers, training and development programmes to support culture and leadership, and strengthening board assurance and surveillance to identify issues earlier, thereby enabling rapid intervention."

Ms Davies hailed the decision as a major step in improving maternity safety.

She said: "I feel that the scales have finally tipped in the right direction and having committed this money they have effectively admitted that it is needed.

"It is a massive step forward. I don't know any other investigation or campaign that has gone on for as long that has resulted in this.

"I want this to be Kate's resounding legacy, to make a difference from now, but I acknowledge everyone who has faced horrendous battles and fought so hard to get here.

"What has to happen now with this money is really careful, close scrutiny of where it goes. We cannot waste a penny of this. It cannot be to change the colour of a form, or to train people on PR crisis, every penny has to go to improving clinical outcomes."

Donna Ockenden

Donna Ockenden, who led the review, and is currently working on the second part of her report, welcomed the speed with which the NHS has taken action on the recommendations.

She also paid tribute to the families who have campaigned for action.

She said: "NHS England and NHS Improvement have announced a very significant amount of money to be invested in maternity services following the publication of our report and I am delighted to hear this so soon after the completion of our first report.

"This is a huge tribute to the families who tried for so long, and so hard, to get their voices heard. Clearly they are now being listened to and I extend my thanks to them. I also want to thank my team who have worked tirelessly on a complex review. Also thank you to NHS England and NHS Improvement for such rapid action following the publication of our report.

"We were very clear that the trust had significant work to do around local actions for learning. We are heartened that the trust have taken on board so seriously the work that needs to be done, and to hear our report is making such a difference to maternity services across England I hope will bring some comfort to the affected families."

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