Today marks the day where the findings of an independent review into the maternity services at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust are released. The review that was originally commissioned in 2017 by the then Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was instigated to look into a number of avoidable baby deaths at both Telford’s Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The report released today is in respect of an initial 250 clinical reviews that have been conducted to date and highlights the emerging findings and recommendations. The investigation continues but the report believes urgent implementation of actions highlighted needs to be brought to the attention of the hospital trust together with other maternity services across England. Recommendations within the report are classed as ‘Immediate and Essential Actions’ for the hospital trust and ‘Local Actions for Learning’ are also provided for the wider maternity services across the NHS.

The report details many traumatic births at the Trust which sadly included the deaths of babies as a result of excessive force of forceps and stillbirths that could have been avoided.

Evidence has been found during the investigation that there were medical records and correspondence blaming the mothers rather than considering issues within the maternity department itself. The attitude of staff was one lacking in compassion and kindness, at a time when families needed this the most. This was considered in the report as being ‘one of the most disappointing and deeply worrying themes…the fact that this was found to be lacking…is unacceptable and deeply concerning’.

The report considers the management of labour and traumatic births. Significant problems are highlighted with the monitoring during labour of the fetal heart rate. The failure to monitor appropriately can have catastrophic consequences including brain injury, cerebral palsy and sadly death of the baby. There are far too many cases within these initial findings for this to go unnoticed and change not be enforced.

Immediate actions to be placed upon the hospital trust are:-

Safety must be strengthened

The voices of women and their families must be heard

Complex pregnancies must be Consultant led with management plans put in place

Risk assessment of women must take place at every antenatal contact

Fetal wellbeing must be monitored closely by those well qualified to do so

Women must be able to make informed consent about all their maternity care

Donna Ockenden, Chair of the Independent Maternity Review, said ‘We appeal for these to be implemented at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust as soon as practically possible and recommend these for thorough consideration within all maternity units across England”.

Ms Ockenden goes on to make an impassioned plea in the report “We owe it to the 1,862 families who are contributing to this review to bring about rapid, positive and sustainable change across the maternity service at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. Implementation of the recommendations from this first report and the final report will be their legacy”.

Freeths solicitors have considerable experience and expertise in representing and securing settlements for clients in cases where there has been substandard care leading to stillbirth, death during pregnancy, neonatal death, brain injury and cerebral palsy.

Karen Reynolds, head of the Derby Clinical Negligence team, has settled multiple multimillion pound settlements in various cerebral palsy claims. These claims often focus on the mismanagement of the Claimant’s birth at the NHS Trust hospital resulting in the Claimant suffering with cerebral palsy and needing care and support for the rest of their life.

Karen was part of the landmark case of Webster v Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [EWCA Civ 62] which was overturned by a ruling in the Court of Appeal and found in favour of parent choice. The case highlighted that patients have a right to be informed about the risks involved in their treatment and make decisions accordingly. Had the claimant’s mother been able to make informed consent in respect of the delivery of her child then the subsequent significant brain injury and disabilities suffered would have been avoided.

Karen is also accredited to be on the panel of solicitors for AvMA, Action against Medical Accidents, an independent patient safety charity, providing advice and support to patients.

If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of our national team for a free, informal discussion:-

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham/Manchester/Liverpool) on 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/London/Bristol/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Nottingham/Leicester/Sheffield/Leeds) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

For further information please also visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/

The findings released today can be found at https://www.donnaockenden.com/downloads/news/2020/12/ockenden-report.pdf