Maternity Care at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust

It is now common knowledge that in 2017 the former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, ordered an investigation into maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH). The investigation initially planned to look at the care involved with 23 cases; however, this soon expanded and is now thought to include at least 104 families. Unfortunately, allegations include baby deaths, maternal deaths and brain injuries, and as a result the investigation has received national attention. As the number of families involved continues to increase, the severity of the issue becomes evermore worrying and now appears to be worse than anyone expected. 

Concern at the rate of cases

Lanyon Bowdler’s clinical negligence department has represented numerous families who have been devastated by the loss of their baby, or where life-changing brain injury has occurred due to avoidable failings in care. We are therefore concerned by the rate at which cases continue to appear at SaTH despite the investigation having launched last year. Experiences under the care of the Trust have caused families we have worked with unspeakable amounts of pain and grief. It is therefore saddening that with each new headline, another family’s story is uncovered. At the forefront is the knowledge that many of the cases have similar errors, which are potentially avoidable.

The rise in families involved indicates that improvements are not being made and safety concerns remain. The widespread investigation appears yet to make any significant impact on improving services under the Trust.

Treatment every right to expect

On 6 September 2018, Heidi Smoult, the Care Quality Commission's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, confirmed that due to safety concerns "We have now taken urgent enforcement action against the Trust to ensure that people always get the care and treatment they have every right to expect." The urgency of this situation, understandably, puts local families in need of maternity care in a distressing position.

Families want reassurance

Lanyon Bowdler’s involvement with families affected has received an abundance of media attention. Consequently, people are now becoming aware of the possibility of bringing a claim when things go wrong. Above all, families want reassurance that the hospitals will take on board their concerns and do everything needed to ensure no more preventable deaths occur in the maternity unit.

In light of the vast number of families affected, it is hoped the Investigation will be conducted transparently and provide the answers that many feel are needed. Imperatively, it should be remembered that the overriding purpose is to identify failings and avoid repetition of mistakes, improve the service, and ultimately restore public confidence.