Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital: Babies and mums died ‘amid toxic culture’

Babies and mothers died amid a "toxic" culture at a hospital trust stretching back 40 years, a report has said.

The catalogue of maternity care failings at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust are contained in a report leaked to The Independent.

It reveals that some children were left disabled, staff got the names of some dead babies wrong and, in one case, referred to a child as "it".

The trust apologised and said "a lot" had been done to address concerns.

In 2017, then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced an investigation into avoidable baby deaths at the trust, which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal.

It is being led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden, who authored the report for NHS Improvement.

Its initial scope was to examine 23 cases but this has now grown to more than 270, covering the period from 1979 to the present day.

The cases include 22 stillbirths, three deaths during pregnancy, 17 deaths of babies after birth, three deaths of mothers, 47 cases of substandard care and 51 cases of cerebral palsy or brain damage.

The interim report said the number of cases it is now being asked to review "seems to represent a longstanding culture at this trust that is toxic to improvement effort".

The report details the issues experienced by affected families, including:

  • Babies left brain-damaged because staff failed to realise labour was going wrong, or from group B strep or meningitis that can often be treated by antibiotics
  • Heartbeats not monitored adequately during labour
  • One father gaining his only feedback on his daughter's death after bumping into a hospital employee at a supermarket
  • Family members being told they would have to leave if they did not "keep the noise down" when they were upset following their baby's death
  • A baby girl's shawl, which her mother had planned to bury her in, was lost by staff
  • Multiple families "where deceased babies are given the wrong names by the trust – frequently in writing" and "on occasions referred to a deceased baby as 'it'"

It also points to an inadequate review carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in 2017 and the "misplaced" optimism of the regulator in charge in 2007.

Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, whose baby Kate died in 2009, were among the families who first pushed for the independent inquiry.

Ms Davies said she was already aware of many of the issues raised by the report but said she was "shocked" by the length of time covered by the report.

"The devastating reality of Kate's avoidable death, that I have to live with, is that she was condemned to her painful death by the culture at SaTH that wilfully refused to learn from earlier cases dating back decades," she said.

"That is why I have fought every body and every institution in Kate's name because no other baby will suffer the same harm while I have breath in my body.

"The only way I believe it will stop is if the police or Crown Prosecution Service bring corporate manslaughter charges against the trust."

Det Supt Carl Moore, of West Mercia Police, said the force was liaising with the independent inquiry and awaiting its findings before any criminal proceedings would be considered – in line with protocol in health care settings.

Mr Stanton said: "My feelings are one of huge sorrow, huge sorrow for all the families who have had their lives ripped apart by this trust, by the avoidable death of their child, an avoidable death of a mother or the harm to their child.

"A death at the hands of a trust that has a toxic culture of lying and cover up."

Sharon Morris, whose daughter Olivia suffered a brain injury 14 years ago, said she was "not shocked" by the findings.

In a statement released by LanyRead More – Source