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Report: Hundreds of babies died in NHS maternity care scandal

A major report is due to be published today which is expected to reveal that hundreds of babies at an NHS hospital trust potentially died or were left mentally disabled by preventable mistakes.

The report comes after a 5 year inquiry into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, in which independent midwife Donna Ockenden examined more than 1,800 cases alleging poor care. There was also input from a team of 90 expert doctors and midwives.

According to the Independent.co.uk, the majority of these cases were categorised as “significant” or of “major concern,” and took place between 2000 and 2019.

It is the largest inquiry of its kind into a single NHS hospital department.

An interim report published in December of 2020 claimed that some mothers were blamed for their babies’ deaths. Letters and records reportedly “often focused on blaming the mothers” rather than examining potential mistakes on the part of the hospital staff.

It also mentioned that some babies died from the use of excessive force with forceps.

It was claimed that there were repeated incidents in which staff failed to realise a mother or baby needed medical attention, with one woman’s baby dying during labour because staff were reportedly “too busy” to monitor the situation.

According to the report:

“The family were critical of the ensuing investigation, and correspondence with the Trust, and said during a meeting with the Review Chair that they had been ‘put off, fobbed off and had obstacles put in our way’.”

“One of the most disappointing and deeply worrying themes that has emerged is the reported lack of kindness and compassion from some members of the maternity team,” said the interim report.

“The fact that this was found to be lacking…is unacceptable and deeply concerning.”

According to the Sunday Times, who spoke to Ockenden, the new upcoming report will show that mothers were denied caesarean sections in an effort to hit “normal” or natural birth quotas, leading to unnecessary trauma.

The incident has been described by some media outlets such as The Independent.co.uk as “largest maternity scandal in NHS history.”

In June of 2020, West Mercia police launched an investigation into the deaths of babies at the hospital to see if there was “evidence to support a criminal case either against the trust or any individuals involved.”

The trust previously said it takes “full responsibility” for the issues.

UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt who ordered the inquiry said that the report was “very, very shocking and sobering reading,” adding that the number of deaths was “far worse” than he had previously imagined.

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