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More than 1800 cases are being investigated as part of the largest ever review of maternity care in the NHS.
The investigation into care at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust dates back to 2017 and was ordered by the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt who was concerned about the potential medical negligence that had taken place at the Trust.
The addition of further cases to be investigated follows an initial report published which had been delayed by the trust due to it being too critical. Concerns were raised about the potential of birth injuries and negligent care.
There are now an additional 496 cases that will be investigated and relate to stillbirths, maternal deaths and neonatal deaths, each case has been passed to an independent maternity review. It is thought that these additional cases have only emerged as previous reviews only looked at digital records and the majority of the 496 cases were recorded only in paper documents. Worryingly, the cases are also being passed to the West Mercia police in order to establish whether there is scope to bring charges of corporate manslaughter or even individual manslaughter charges against those staff involved. It is unknown as to whether these cases were already pursuing birth injury compensation.
It is hoped that following the review any instances of poor and inadequate care can be reviewed and best practices developed to ensure that these issues never occur again, although this may be of little comfort to those who have been impacted and suffered as a result.
In an open letter, chief executive of the trust Louise Barnett said: “We should have provided far better care for these families at what was one of the most important times in their lives and we have let them down. An apology is not enough. What needs to be seen is evidence of real improvement at the trust. This is why we are committed to listening to families, our community, and working with Donna Ockenden’s review.”
The addition of the 496 cases mean this could now become the worst scandal in the history of the NHS, overtaking the maternity failings at the Mid Staffordshire trust whereby it was found that between 2005 and 2009 400 to 1,200 patients died as a result of poor care. It is likely that there will be an increase in midwife negligence claims as a result.