The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust will be investigated following a number of baby deaths.
According to inquests by the local coroner and legal action against the trust, seven of the deaths were avoidable. A failure to properly monitor the baby’s heart rate was a contributory factor in five of the deaths.
Some mothers have claimed that their children died because midwives ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to fulfil basic monitoring tasks, or to act on warnings that babies were in danger.
An official report published last year severely criticised the trust’s maternity services following the death of a baby in 2009. After a seven-year investigation, it was confirmed that the trust’s failings contributed to the tragedy.
The report also stated that the trust had a ‘lack of a safety culture’ in 2009 and had not held any staff accountable for the failures, nor learned lessons.
A separate analysis of all NHS trusts in England last year rated Shrewsbury and Telford as one of the worst in the country when it came to learning from mistakes and incidents.
Following the Health Secretary’s move to order an investigation into the trust, its medical director has said that improvements have been made and that death rates are no worse than anywhere else, but this statement will be of little comfort to those families affected.
It’s impossible to avoid all mistakes, but ongoing investment in staff and training is essential to ensure continuous improvement and that death rates are reduced. The NHS is under immense strain, but failing to learn vital lessons can have tragic consequences.
We have dealt with many cases where midwifery and obstetric errors have had a devastating impact on the families involved. This is often due to serious mistakes which stem from a lack of resources, training and monitoring.
Shrewsbury and Telford Trust may be an extreme case but yet again, underlines the challenges faced by the NHS and which risk mistakes being made.
If a member of your family has a complaint linked to a serious concern arising from possible negligence which has led to harm, seek specialist legal advice to establish your options.
For further information, please contact Karen Cathcart, a solicitor specialising in clinical and medical negligence at Devonshires on 020 7880 4383.