NHS investigation finds women were blamed for death of their babies in maternity ward scandal

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  • An independent investigation into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust found that mums were blamed for deaths of their own babies as part of the huge maternity ward scandal. 

    The new report, which was released today, also reveals how 13 mothers died between 2000 and 2019 while in the care of the hospital trust and others were left screaming, without treatment during labour.

    While it hasn’t been revealed exactly how many babies died or suffered injury during the period, maternity death rates at Shrewsbury and Telford were 10% higher than in hospital trusts that were compared between 2013 and 2016.

    The inquiry into deaths and allegations of poor care at the hospital trust was sparked in 2017 and is now looking deeper into the cases of 1,862 families impacted by the scandal, with the majority of incidents seeming to have happened between 2000 and 2019.

    The 48-page report found also found that the hospital’s midwives failed to recognise when pregnancies were not progressing normally, practiced an inappropriate use of drugs, including oxytocin, to speed up labour
 and also showed lack of care and empathy towards mothers and pregnant women.

    One woman had repeated attempts at delivery via forceps but the baby suffered multiple skull fractures and died.

    In addition, the report has identified seven “immediate and essential actions” needed to improve maternity care in England.

    pregnant woman holding baby bump

    Credit: Getty

    In a statement following the release of the review, former senior midwife Donna Ockenden, who is chair of the independent maternity review, said mothers at the NHS trust had been “denied the opportunity to voice their concerns about the care they have received” which caused “untold pain and distress, including, sadly, deaths of mothers and babies”.

    “Many families have suffered long-term mental health problems,” Ockenden added.

    “They say their suffering has been made worse by the handling of their cases by the trust.”

    Meanwhile, patient safety and maternity minister Nadine Dorries said, “My heartfelt sympathies are with every family who has been affected by the shocking failings in Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s maternity services.

    “I expect the trust to act upon the recommendations immediately, and for the wider maternity service right across the country to consider important actions they can take to improve safety for mothers, babies and families.

    “This Government is utterly committed to patient safety, eradicating avoidable harms and making the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth.”