Shropshire maternity scandal: Families still suffering poor hospital care, claims lawyer

A lawyer has claimed families "still don't trust" maternity services in Shropshire - six months on from a report into a major scandal.

Donna Ockenden
Donna Ockenden

Lanyon Bowdler solicitors have said they are working on 135 cases against Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust (SaTH), including 12 from two years and two from this year.

However, SaTH says progress has been made, and the trust is working closely with women to manage risk factors and complications.

It comes after maternity expert Donna Ockenden's review, which was published on March 30, found 60 areas where improvements could be made at SaTH and identified 201 cases of stillbirth and neonatal deaths that could have been avoided if better care had been provided.

Beth Heath, head of clinical negligence at Lanyon Bowdler, said: “It is deeply troubling that we are still being contacted by parents who have suffered from poor care at our local hospitals.

“If improvements are being made, as is claimed by the Trust, then they are too slow as avoidable deaths are still happening - we are currently dealing with cases relating to two tragic stillbirths which happened within the past year.

“From speaking with clients, and indeed our friends and family, it’s clear there is still a lack of trust and confidence in Shropshire’s maternity services - a lot of women are purposely going out of the county to have their babies.

“Seeing some evidence of meaningful change is vital to start rebuilding that confidence. Families have suffered unimaginable pain through failings at the Trust and don’t want to see it happening time and again.

“We will continue to work on behalf of families to hold our local NHS Trust to account in the hope that urgent improvements will be made to restore our confidence and trust in Shropshire’s maternity services.”

SaTH says 45 (87 per cent) of the 52 actions set out in the first Ockenden Report - published in December 2020 - have been delivered, meaning the trust has delivered on all but one of the actions it is the lead for. The trust says it is collaborating closely with partners to achieve the remaining actions.

The final report provided a further 158 actions for SaTH to deliver. So far, 44 (28 per cent) have been delivered, evidenced, and assured. A further 59 (37 per cent) are on track to deliver by their planned date, and the trust is in the planning process for the remaining actions.

Hayley Flavell, director of nursing at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We work closely with women to understand their birth choices and how we might collectively manage any risk factors to help prevent the occurrence of any complications. We are accountable to families as well as external organisations, and we act on all recommendations to improve the service and care we provide.

“We encourage anyone with questions or concerns about the care they have received to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) via the following email address”

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), highlighted 'outstanding practice' in maternity services at SaTH in a 2021 inspection, which said staff 'showed immense levels of resilience during extremely challenging circumstances'.

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