The number of cases to be reviewed for alleged poor maternity care has now risen to 104.
Senior midwife Donna Ockenden was appointed by the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt in January 2017 to review 23 cases of mother and baby deaths and injuries at hospitals in Shropshire.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has revealed that the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust has written to 12 other families to seek permission for their care to be reviewed as there “may be potential for further learning”.
Last month it emerged that at least 60 cases involving baby deaths, brain damage and four mothers who died had been identified.
A further number of cases are allegedly from families who came forward following media coverage of the events, whilst others have been identified from coroner’s inquests, incident records, and other documentation.
However, NHS Improvement said they could not confirm the number of cases due to be considered. Dr Kathy McLean, Executive Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer of the organisation, said “At this stage, we are unable to confirm how many historical cases will be considered under our independent review.
“We are examining in detail anything that may be relevant, ensuring that possible duplication is taken into account. Also, it is important that in any historical investigations that we consider, appropriate consent from the family members is obtained in advance. We will confirm further details about our review as soon as we are able to.”
The review will be led by an independent board. The team is looking into claims that some babies born at the trust between 2000 and December 2017 suffered avoidable harm.
Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, has confirmed the CQC has taken further enforcement action against the trust “to ensure the safety of patients”.
Four midwives have been questioned over the scandal, including former head of midwifery Cathy Smith.
Kayleigh Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa passed away in 2009 from a preventable infection a day after she was born said: “The news is too much for us to comprehend, we have been hit very hard by it. Releasing the same statement about being safe is an insult to those who have suffered.”
Her partner, Richard Stanton, added: “The trust has buried its head in the sand and what we are seeing now is a tragedy unfolding that is beyond all belief. I think the trust has continually failed to learn and in that situation mothers and babies are going to continue to come to harm.”
A report into Katie’s death found that it was avoidable, and said midwives ignored her parent’s concerns and failed to realise the birth was high risk.
Other parents have claimed they were pressured into natural birth and believe that caesarean or forceps-assisted deliveries would have prevented brain damage.
Some deaths were also blamed on the failure of midwives to properly monitor foetal heart rates and detect infection.
Tasha Turner, whose baby daughter died at the hospital in 2013, said “I have so many questions”, she continued “How was I told when she was born that she was fine, and then she dies four days later? I’ve looked up the condition she had – no way should it kill someone.”
Deirdre Fowler, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Quality at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, commented; “We recognise that, taken in isolation, the number of cases which are being considered may cause concern or anxiety for families currently using our services.
“It is important that any families who have any questions or concerns over their care are given the chance to have them explored.”
Pryers has extensive experience acting on behalf of babies and mothers who have received poor maternity care, including families who were affected by the recent allegations of baby deaths at the Counter of Chester Hospital. We are in a position to advise any families who believe they have been affected by treatment at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.
If you would like to speak in confidence, please contact us on 01904 556600 or get in touch.