UK Gov't Apologises as 'Harrowing' Maternity Scandal Inquiry Reveals Over 200 Avoidable Baby Deaths

© AFP 2023 / Isabel InfantesAn NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London.
An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas' Hospital in front of the Big Ben clock face and the Elizabeth Tower on January 13, 2017 in London.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.03.2022
A review was launched in 2018 after two families whose babies had died while in the care of Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, western England, demanded an inquiry. A five-year probe ensued, analysing the experiences of 1,500 families between the years 2000 and 2019.
The UK government has issued an apology over failings at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust where more than 200 babies died or were left brain-damaged across a span of two decades.
“Every woman giving birth has the right to a safe birth and my heart therefore goes out to the families for the distress and suffering they have endured,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Wednesday.
His sentiments were echoed by British Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who said in Parliament:

“We entrust the NHS with our care, often when we’re at our most vulnerable. In return we expect the highest standards. But when those standards are not met, we must act firmly and the failures of care and compassion that are set out in this report have absolutely no place in the NHS. To all the families that have suffered so gravely, I am sorry.”

Referring to the findings of the Ockenden report, which laid bare the shocking details of the largest maternity scandal in NHS history, Javid added:
“This report paints a tragic and harrowing picture of repeated failures in care over two decades, which led to unimaginable trauma for so many people …The report clearly shows that you were failed by a service that was there to help you and your loved ones to bring life into this world. We will make the changes that the report says are needed at both a local and national level.”
A report published on Wednesday revealed that persistent maternity care failings at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust had led to nearly 300 avoidable baby deaths or brain-damage cases.
The inquiry, chaired by Donna Ockenden and commissioned in 2016 by then UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, found that 131 stillbirths, 70 neonatal deaths and nine maternal deaths either could have or would have been avoided with better care.
The inquiry examined 1,592 clinical incidents, including cases of still-birth, neonatal death, maternal death and other severe complications in mothers and newborns, involving 1,486 families between 2000 and 2019.
The inquiry had been launched after two families who lost their babies in the care of Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust tenaciously campaigned for an inquiry.
Rhiannon Davies lost her daughter hours after giving birth in March 2009, and Kayleigh Griffiths lost her daughter to a Group B Strep infection in 2016, with a coroner ruling her death could have been avoided.
Initial findings of the Ockenden report, released in 2020, shone light on a pattern of failures and poor maternal care resulting in “avoidable deaths”. Furthermore, deaths were often reportedly not investigated, with mothers on occasion blamed for “poor outcomes”.
Newborn baby - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.03.2022
'Climate of Fear' Prevented NHS Trust Staff From Exposing Hundreds of Baby Deaths, Report Says
Now that the report has been published in full, Donna Ockenden said that hospital management had “failed to investigate, failed to learn and failed to improve … This resulted in tragedies and life-changing incidents for so many of our families.”
According to the report, the British hospital group had been obsessed with keeping cesarean section rates low, even though performing C-sections earlier would have avoided death and injury in some cases.
Ockenden said “systemic” improvement was needed across the country, including ensuring that maternity units were properly staffed and funded.
In response to the published findings, Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust chief executive Louise Barnett offered “wholehearted apologies”, saying that “we owe it to those families we failed and those we care for today and in the future to continue to make improvements”.
Amid a rush of official apologies, West Mercia Police is conducting a parallel investigation, according to a report in British tabloid the Daily Mirror, with a corporate prosecution of the Trust or individual prosecutions of senior medics possible.
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