In November 2019, a report from an interim inquiry into failings at the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford was leaked to the press.
The inquiry was investigating the deaths and injuries of babies at the two hospitals dating from 1979 to present, with the majority of cases having occurred since the year 2000.
Midwife Donna Ockendon led the review, with more than 1,800 cases examined after families were invited to contact the inquiry. The review was expanded from an initial 23 families, and the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Telford Hospitals were placed into special measures.
The Shropshire Maternity Scandal came to light with the Stanton-Davies family’s fight to ensure that lessons were learnt after their baby daughter’s death in 2009.
The pregnancy was meant to be flagged as high-risk and the mother, Rhiannon, should have never been on the unit in the first place. Compounding this, midwives failed to monitor their daughter Kate’s condition.
The family first secured an inquest into Kate’s death, and once this had been ruled avoidable, they challenged the NHS on how they investigated it. The resulting review found systemic failings of the former head of midwifery and midwives who altered notes retrospectively.
The Stanton-Davies family then worked with a second family and wrote to the Health Secretary at the time, Jeremy Hunt, who ordered an independent investigation.
The scandal has been described as the biggest maternity scandal in the history of the NHS, with clinical malpractice continuing unchecked for over 40 years according to the leaked internal report.
An interim report examining 250 cases found that at least 42 babies and three mothers may have died avoidably. It also found that more than 50 newborns may have sustained avoidable brain damage.
The review examined over 1,800 cases. Not all cases involved death or serious harm, but many involved significant errors.
The report revealed that concerns over injuries to babies were highlighted in 2017 to regulators. The findings of this review by Donna Ockendon were published in December 2020.
Repeated clinical errors were inadequately followed up, which meant important lessons were not learnt.
Bereaved families weren’t treated with kindness or respect, with instances of staff referring to babies as ‘it’ and one baby’s body left to decompose for weeks after a post-mortem.
The Trust was ordered to repay £1 million that was given by NHS Resolution for good maternity care. Two months after the payment in September 2018, maternity services were rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and were placed in special measures. Weekly status reports were required from the hospital bosses due to the concerns.
In June 2020, West Mercia Police began a criminal investigation into the deaths of babies at Shrewsbury and Telford Trust, to see whether there was evidence to support a criminal case against either the Trust or individuals involved. The case is ongoing.
In August 2020 it emerged that new areas of concern had been identified at the Royal Shrewsbury and Telford’s Princess Royal Hospitals. The CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Ted Baker, has said that failing leadership is perpetuating poor care. The trust was rated inadequate on every measure.
Understanding the details of the Shropshire Maternity Scandal and how they can be used when answering ethics questions during your interview is vital. Some example questions you could be asked include:
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