NHS patient safety body to work with Shropshire's major hospitals to improve maternity care

An organisation which investigates patient safety concerns in the NHS will work together with Shropshire's main hospitals to improve maternity care, it has emerged.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, has announced it will work with the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) to communicate and receive feedback from women and families after initial findings of the Ockenden inquiry revealed a series of failings in maternity care.

In December, the review – which is looking into more than 1,800 cases of alleged poor care and baby deaths at SaTH – identified 27 local actions needed to improve the county’s maternity services, as well as seven which are recommended for across England.

A new Ockenden assurance committee, which was created to oversee required improvements, met for the first time online last month and a second meeting has been scheduled later this month.

The latest announcement means that SaTH will receive expert advice from HSIB as it works with women and families.

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The HSIB conducts independent investigations into patient safety concerns in NHS-funded care across England, working closely with patients, families and healthcare staff affected by safety incidents.

The trust's chief executive, Louise Barnett, said: “This agreement with HSIB represents a key milestone for the trust as we work to implement the actions set out in the Ockenden report.

“It is really important that we engage effectively and sensitively, and listen to any women and families that wish to speak with us.

"It is their experiences that will help us to learn and improve the services we deliver now and into the future.”

System

Members of the Ockenden assurance committee include representatives from the trust and partner organisations, including Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Maternity Voices Partnership, the county's clinical commissioning group and Healthwatch.

The second meeting is scheduled to take place on April 22, from 9am to 11.30am, and will be streamed live.

Last month, the committee was told that measures being taken to improve maternity services at the county's major hospitals included recruiting staff, buying new training equipment and bringing in a new electronic record system.

In total, there are 52 specific actions for the trust to implement to meet the actions required by the Ockenden inquiry.

The trust is also working with Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, from Nottinghamshire, to bring forward improvements in maternity services.

The initial findings of the Ockenden inquiry detailed a lengthy list of failings in care at the trust, drawing some harrowing conclusions about the experiences of families involved in the review.

Grieving mothers being blamed for their loss and 'missed opportunities' to prevent serious harm were among them.

Following its launch by then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2017, the number of cases being considered has risen from 23 to 1,862.

The review's full report is expected to be published later this year.

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