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Shropshire Star comment: Leaked report exposes something truly terrible

By Shropshire Star | Telford | Opinions | Published:

The interim findings of an independent report into Shropshire’s baby deaths scandal are about as bad as they can be.

The inquiry set up by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt goes beyond accusing the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust of making mistakes – although those mistakes in themselves are awful enough – leading to avoidable deaths.

Based on the leaking of the report, it paints a picture of a maternity service which was so concerned with protecting itself that those things which should have been of paramount importance became clouded – the lives of the babies in its care, addressing the legitimate concerns of parents, and building a culture in which lessons are learned so that failures are not repeated.

Parents’ concerns were shrugged off and too often they were treated in an insensitive, careless, or cavalier fashion, and some were actively misled.

More on the scandal:

If only there was a straw to grasp in that the report said this was all in the past. There is not even this small crumb of comfort. Quite the opposite. The study says that even now lessons are not being learned and staff at the trust are uncommunicative with families.

It talks of a toxic culture going back 40 years. These findings are themselves a disastrous poison to the reputation of the trust and will be devastating for morale among maternity staff.

You have to feel for those professional, devoted, and caring staff facing those silently questioning eyes of parents asking whether they can be trusted to care for their baby.

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It is conceivable that these grave failings would have continued to be buried had it not been for the persistence of two couples who refused to be fobbed off after the deaths of their children shortly after birth.

No doubt efforts were made to convince them that they were making a fuss about nothing.

We can see that it was a fuss about something, something truly terrible, and it will be a major task to turn the page on this dark chapter.

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