Maternity services review highlights failings

The findings of the UKs largest ever investigation into maternity care have now been published, with damning insights into failings that led to birth injuries, maternal injuries and even deaths.

Medical negligence solicitors, Blackwater Law had previously discussed the ongoing investigations in our article here.

Birth injury compensation claims

The report investigated 250 cases at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust with the purpose that the findings could help to prevent further birth injuries and in turn reduce the amount of birth injury compensation sought as a result. The report follows 1,862 families contacting the health secretary, and cases put forward by the NHS Trust relating to avoidable neonatal and maternal harm and deaths. The families were concerned that lessons were not being learned and that more families would suffer the consequences of a birth injury or neonatal death without adequate measures in place to prevent this. It is hoped that the findings from this report will therefore provide the families with answers and prevent further avoidable injuries and deaths from occurring both within The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust and across maternity services throughout England.

Birth injury report findings

  • Pregnant women were often not advised about the different facilities in the birthing suite and obstetric suite. This meant that instances both mothers with higher risk and babies that were higher risk elected to birth in the birthing suite which was not appropriate in accordance with their medical needs. This led to avoidable birth injuries, neonatal and maternal deaths. Where complications occurred, these were not necessarily escalated in a timely manner.
  • Mothers who experienced complications during labour, did not always receive the prioritisation of care that they needed. This often led to increased distress as well as injuries and could have resulted in maternity injury compensation as a result.
  • Established local and national guidelines were not being followed in relation to the use of Oxytocin during labour and forcep deliveries. In some instances, the report details that mothers had previously requested an elective caesarean delivery due to complicating factors (such as a previous traumatic birth) but were strongly encouraged to deliver naturally. The parent’s perception was that the Trust wanted to keep their published caesarean rate down. This often led to traumatic births and a number of injuries including cerebral palsy, potentially giving light to cerebral palsy claims.
  • Bereavement support provided by the Trust often lacked compassion and in many instances compounded the parents anxiety and suffering. The report also showed that in some instances, internal investigations were not conducted, or were conducted to a substandard level. This meant that there were multiple missed opportunities for learning in order to prevent future oversights.

The detailed report highlights a number of shortcomings made by the Trust over the almost 20 year period and outlines a number of essential actions that the Trust must implement with immediate effect. Whilst this is far too late for those families who have been directly impacted, it is hoped that learnings can be made and future mistakes avoided, in order to provide the safest care for women and babies when it is most needed.

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