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

NHS Shrewsbury and Telford
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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 (opens in new tab).

While it hasn't been revealed exactly how many babies died or suffered injury during the period, maternity death (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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."

Caitlin Elliott
Caitlin Elliott

Caitlin is a Junior News Editor for Goodto.com, covering all things royal, celeb, lifestyle, food, and family. Having set her sights on becoming a magazine journalist when she was a child, Caitlin took on work experience stints at local papers and titles such as Cosmopolitan, Now, Reveal and Take a Break while studying for her Multimedia Journalism degree and has interviews with celebs, reality stars and the Archbishop of Canterbury under her belt (of course, she couldn't resist asking him about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry).