‘She was lifeless’: More maternity deaths probed at NHS trust


The number of babies and mothers who may have died or been harmed because of “poor care” at a hospital trust has risen.

Some 23 cases were put under review last year as part of an investigation into maternity failings at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust.

It has now emerged the number of cases has increased since the review was commissioned.

Dr Kathy McLean, chief operating officer at hospital regulator NHS Improvement, confirmed to Sky News that the independent review is examining “the 23 historical investigations identified in April 2017, as well as investigations that have been highlighted since then”.

According to a report in the Health Service Journal (HSJ), the number of investigations has trebled to at least 60.

It reports the trust “has had six separate reviews commissioned into its maternity services with at least 60 cases identified”.

It claims an internal “legacy review” identified “dozens more cases of poor care”.

Rhiannon Davies, whose daughter Kate died nine years ago, told the HSJ: “Unlike what I was led to believe in 2009, Kate was not the first avoidable death at the trust.

“Yet no one bothered to learn and so sealed her fate – and mine, and that causes me almost unbearable pain.”

She added: “There are lots more cases now and all that learning could be lost because things will be missed.”

Group B Strep mother Kayleigh Griffiths
Image: Kayleigh Griffiths had not been tested for Group B Strep during her pregnancy

Families are calling on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to widen the inquiry, known as the Ockenden Review.

The increase has prompted concern the failings could be worse than at Morecambe Bay hospital trust, where the avoidable deaths of 11 babies and one mother were identified.

A large number of the 23 cases being examined at the Shewsbury trust involve the deaths of babies and mothers during childbirth.

The rest deal with babies who have suffered lifelong harm.

Kayleigh Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died in 2016 after midwives ignored signs of a serious infection, said the trust is “not open to change”.

“There are going to be more cases as families are coming forward,” she told the HSJ.

Like most women in the UK, Ms Griffiths had not been tested for Group B Strep during her pregnancy and had been provided with little information about the condition.

Soon after Pippa was born she noticed her breathing was laboured and her hands and feet were cold.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock on the NHS charm offensive.
Image: Health Secretary Matt Hancock is being urged to broaden the review

She contacted midwives, but had no idea that the symptoms could be as serious as they were.

“I was just holding her, she was asleep and I noticed that I couldn’t hear her breathing anymore,” Ms Griffiths told Sky News in 2017.

“I looked down and there was nothing, she was lifeless.”

One-day-old Pippa was rushed to hospital but could not be saved. Her parents later learned she had died of meningitis.

Ms Griffiths said: “We’re never going to get first words, first steps, first days at school, it’s all been taken away. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t still be here.”

In 2017, it was confirmed that at least seven babies had died at the trust between September 2014 and May 2016 – the deaths were deemed to be avoidable.

The number of cases being looked at eventually more than tripled.

The Shrewsbury and Telford investigation is being overseen by NHS Improvement and Donna Ockenden, a senior independent midwife.

Dr McLean said: “Our independent review will consider everything it can to ensure Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is equipped to learn from the previous failings in its maternity and neonatal services.”

At least seven babies died at the Trust between September 2014 and May 2016
Image: A number of babies and mothers have died at the trust

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We take any patient safety concerns extremely seriously.

“We have asked NHS Improvement to investigate whether further cases at Shrewsbury and Telford should be considered as part of the Ockenden Review, as well as assurance that the trust has taken steps to improve maternity services since these issues came to light in 2016.”

The HSJ also reports the trust has been issued a warning from the Care Quality Commission, who are investigating concerns that patients in other departments are being treated like “animals and cattle” in “unsafe, demeaning, undignified, and disgusting” conditions.

It is understood Simon Wright, chief executive for the trust, said the trust accepted the CQC’s findings and had a plan to address them.

He told the Journal: “Our teams work incredibly hard every day of the year to care for the 500,000 people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales that we serve.

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“I and the board will be doing everything in our power to make sure they can deliver that care in the safest and kindest way possible.”

Sky News tried to contact the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust but no one was available to comment. It has previously offered its “unreserved” apologies to parents.

From – SkyNews


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