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Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Families ask questions over 36 deaths at maternity probe hospital trust

Written by Ella Pickover

Families have raised questions over the deaths of 36 people at a trust at the centre of a maternity probe, it has emerged.

Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust said it had been in contact with dozens of families who had queries about their maternity experience at the trust between 1973 and 2017.

This includes 36 questions about the deaths of mothers and babies.

Senior midwife Donna Ockenden was appointed last year to independently review alleged poor maternity care at the trust.

Earlier on Wednesday, the BBC reported that 215 families have questioned the care they received at the trust.

The trust initially said it understood the figure to be correct but it later issued a statement saying that "separate from the NHSI-commissioned investigation, the Trust is or has discussed issues with 91 families who have come forward to discuss their experience".

The trust's statement continued: "Of these 36 relate to questions about deaths and 22 to cases of permanent harm."

It is not clear how many cases of alleged poor care will form part of the independent review, led by NHS Improvement, because it is still in its exploratory stage.

Shrewsbury and Telford was put into special measures by health chiefs last week.

NHS Improvement confirmed that the trust had been placed into the improvement regime following a recommendation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

This means that the organisation will receive additional support from central NHS bodies to turn around its performance.

In October, the CQC said it was taking action at the trust following inspections of its maternity and emergency departments.

Dr Kathy McLean, executive medical director and chief operating officer at NHS Improvement, said: "We are grateful for the families who have come forward so far to share or query whether their experience should form part of our independent investigation.

"We want to assure people that every possible case has and will be taken into account as part of the investigation, to help ensure that lessons are learnt."

The trust's statement adds: "The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) strives to give the safest and kindest care to all mums and babies we look after.

"We are working closely with families who have contacted us following the announcement of an NHS Improvement-led enquiry into historic maternity issues.

"Families have approached the Trust and the separate NHSI-led review with a range of questions and issues and we want any family that has a concern or a question to come forward so that we can help them.

"Separate from the NHSI-commissioned investigation, the Trust is or has discussed issues with 91 families who have come forward to discuss their experience over a 44 year period from 1973 to 2017. Of these 36 relate to questions about deaths and 22 to cases of permanent harm.

"During this period there have been around 198,000 births at the Trust's hospitals in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

"Not all of these cases relate to the quality of care provided. Some families have contacted the trust for general reassurance and information. Others have questions they would like answering."

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