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Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust Maternity Care Negligence Claims

 

In the last few years, locally and nationally, public awareness surrounding standards of maternity care experienced by mothers and their babies in parts of England & Wales has grown primarily due to the unfolding Shropshire Maternity Care Scandal that has seen widespread coverage in the news.

In 2017, Jeremy Hunt (then Health Secretary) announced an investigation would be launched into the deaths of 23 babies under care of the Trust, to examine the standard of the maternity care services provided. Unfortunately, since the investigation began, the number of families found to be affected by poor maternity care has increased dramatically.

As a leading Medical Negligence law firm based in Shropshire, we are already acting for a large number of local families against the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and have an unrivalled understanding of the problems that have befallen mothers and their babies while under the care of these hospitals.

We are helping local families to claim the compensation they rightly deserve, while helping to ensure the problems of the past are resolved and put right for our community of tomorrow.

What Has Happened?

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and the two individual hospitals under management are at the centre of an ongoing investigation into the care provided to mothers and babies over a 40-year period.

Maternity services at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shrewsbury run by the Trust have rightly come under scrutiny, due to tragic cases of:

  • Stillbirths
  • Deaths of babies in the neonatal period
  • Deaths of mothers during or after childbirth
  • Babies suffering injury
  • Babies suffering brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Mother’s suffering psychological damage from their experiences

In July 2020, the BBC and SKY reported that over 1,900 cases are now part of the current review, described as “the worst Maternity scandal in the history of the NHS”.

Following its initial launch in 2017, where the investigation intended to look specifically at 23 incidents occurring between 2009 and 2016, the investigation has expanded dramatically, with many more families coming forward.

Leading the investigation is Donna Ockenden, a registered midwife and maternity clinical expert (now Chair of the Independent Maternity review into care at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust). The investigation has gone on to identify hundreds of further possible cases, where tragically, mothers, and babies have died or been left with life-changing injuries.

The Ockenden Review has now identified nearly 1,900 individual cases where there are signs of sub-standard care being a contributory factor in the death or serious injury to a baby or the death or injury to a mother.

Families who have concerns and are not part of the review have been advised to directly contact the trust on sath.maternitycare@nhs.net.

What is Maternity Care Negligence?

Medical negligence is when medical care falls below the standards that should be reasonably expected in England & Wales, resulting in injury or, sadly, even death. 

To make a claim for Medical Negligence (also known as Clinical Negligence) it must be proven that physical or mental harm has been caused to an individual as a direct result of a breach in the legal duty of care afforded to us by medical professionals and their institutions.

Generally, it must be proven that had the victim received proper medical care (that should be reasonably expected by a competent medical professional), then the outcome would not have led to injury or death.

Negligence in Maternity care, relates to the care received by a mother and her baby during:

  • Pregnancy
  • Labour
  • Delivery
  • Neonatal care
  • Post-natal care

Pregnancy and childbirth can involve complications where the survival of the baby and, or the mother may not always be possible. Life is delicate and precious, and sometimes despite the best efforts of all concerned, tragic outcomes can be inevitable.

Nevertheless, all of us are entitled to expect a reasonable standard of professional and diligent care from the medical teams entrusted to protect us.

Update - Donna Ockenden’s final report

The final report which was published on 30 March 2022 has reviewed the maternity care received by 1,486 different families, involving 1,592 clinical incidents. Cases span from as early as 1973, with the latest in 2020. As such, it is the largest ever number of clinical reviews conducted as part of an inquiry relating to a single service in the history of the NHS. 

The report highlights woefully poor practice over a period of decades, to include a reluctance to carry out caesarean sections, a failure to train staff properly to read CTG (heart monitoring) traces; inadequate team working, a refusal to follow national guidelines, an inability to learn from mistakes and a culture of cover-up. It has been identified that there are 60 areas where improvements could be made at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

Harrowingly, the report identifies 201 cases of still birth and neonatal deaths that could have been avoided if better care had been provided and nine avoidable maternal deaths. Other babies were starved of oxygen and left with life-changing disabilities. It was found that false reassurances were given to families about the maternity services despite repeated concerns being raised. 

We have profound sympathy for all of the families who have suffered indescribable loss and harm as a result of maternity failings at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and we hope that this report will herald the improvements in maternity care that they have been asking for. 

We will now continue to support the families we represent as we navigate the next stage of this process.

Read about the report in Emma Farrington's blog here

Update - BBC Panorama

At 9pm on Wednesday 23 February 2022, a BBC Panorama documentary will be aired focusing on maternity care in Shropshire. The programme will feature an interview with our Head of Clinical Negligence and partner, Beth Heath as we continue to represent families seeking justice from one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NHS.

Ahead of this programme, BBC News published an informative and emotive article summarising the position as it stands. This is examined and summarised by Laura Weir, associate solicitor here in a blog

Update - Podcast

Listen here to a podcast recorded by Beth Heath, Head of Department and partner and Katherine Jones, associate solicitor. In this episode, Beth and Katherine look at the maternity claims at SaTH and the report which is due from Donna Ockenden. They also discuss the three reoccurring themes which are regularly presented to them.

Update - Date confirmed for final report from Donna Ockenden

Donna Ockenden has confirmed that her second and final report out of the independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was due to be published on 22 March 2022, but this was postponed. It has now been confirmed the report will be released on 30 March 2022. This report will build upon the work of the first report to ensure the Local Actions for Learning and Immediate and Essential Actions are strengthened and implemented at the Trust and across the wider maternity system in England. This report is eagerly awaited by the families we represent.

Update - Donna Ockenden Review into Maternity Services at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

On 10 December 2020, Donna Ockenden released her first report on the emerging findings and recommendations out of the independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. The first report focuses on 250 maternity cases and provides essential recommendations that require immediate action for both the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and maternity services across the NHS as a whole.

The findings of the report identified worrying trends at the Trust, in particular during the last two decades.

The report identified that one of the most disappointing themes was the reported lack of kindness and compassion from the maternity and bereavement services at what was such a difficult time for families.

Failings were identified in relation to appropriately risk assessing pregnancies and adequately explaining to prospective parents the risks and options for delivery in obstetric units and the standalone maternity units in the Trust’s geographical area.

The first report of the review found that there was a significant number of cases where midwives and obstetricians did not demonstrate an appropriate level of competence in relation to the monitoring of the fetal heart rate and augmentation of labour with the use of oxytocin.

There was evidence of cases where there were repeated attempts at vaginal delivery with forceps causing damage to both mother and baby and a feeling from parents that the Trust was trying to keep the caesarean section rate, already lower than the national average, down.

The report made seven essential recommendations:

  • Strengthen maternity units by increasing partnerships between trusts and local networks.
  • Women and their families are listened to with their voices heard.
  • Staff who work together must train together.
  • Robust pathways must be in place to manage complex pregnancies.
  • Women must undergo a risk assessment at each contact throughout their pregnancy pathway.
  • All maternity services must appoint a dedicated lead midwife and lead obstetrician to champion best practice in fetal monitoring.
  • Women must have access to accurate information to enable informed choice about place of birth and mode of delivery including choice for a C-section.

It is understood that Donna Ockenden initially intended to release the final report on 22 March 2022 but this was postponed. It has now been confirmed the report will be released on 30 March 2022. 

Since the release of Donna Ockenden’s emerging findings report, there have been a number of other developments. A police investigation is underway looking into allegations of corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter, known as Operation Lincoln.

Announcements have also been made to confirm that additional funding will be made available to improve maternity services and training across the NHS.

Legal 500 & Chambers UK Recommendations

The Medical Negligence department is recognised in Tier One for the West Midlands in the 2022 edition of The Legal 500, which described the department as "distinct and outstanding" saying the group has extensive experience across a wide range of medical negligence claims including birth, brain and spinal injuries, fatalities, amputations and delay in diagnosis. Other strengths lie in advising on negligent surgery, ophthalmic and vascular conditions.'

The Chambers UK 2022 ranks the department in Band 1 for Shrewsbury & Surrounds and Hereford, Worcester & Surrounds it states we are an 'Impressive practice group with a growing presence across the West Midlands. Offers specialist advice across the full gamut of clinical negligence mandates, with particular experience in cases of surgical error, delayed diagnosis and failure to supervise those at risk of suicide. Additionally skilled in cases relating to post-surgical negligence, brain injury and fatal claims.'

Chambers UK highlight Beth Heath who was appointed department head in May 2021 and leads the dedicated team at Lanyon Bowdler dealing with these maternity cases.

How Can We Help?

Following the leaked interim report into maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, our team has been inundated with calls from families whose child/children have tragically either died or suffered permanent brain damage or where there has been the devastating loss of a mother as a result of potential failings in care.

Furthermore, as time goes on, we are hearing from more families who have been psychologically impacted by the treatment they experienced at the SaTH Trust, including conduct at the hospital which led mother’s to believe they were to blame for what happened, compounding their grief.

Speaking after her report was published, Donna Ockenden explained that many families have experienced long-term mental health problems, their suffering “made worse by the handling of their cases by trust”. 

“We are investigating a large number of cases which is highly concerning given that these are also our local hospitals. Many of us have had our babies there. Understandably, trust in the maternity services has been eroded as information about the scandal is communicated by the media”.

“Priority should be given to the families and to support and enable the hospitals to retrain and to rebuild trust, and introduce robust management systems to ensure that national guidelines are followed to keep future mothers and babies safe, and to support those who have suffered at the hands of failings”.

“Our team is here to help our local community rebuild and ensure these failings never happen again.”

[Beth Heath, Head of Clinical Negligence at Lanyon Bowdler]

We have a dedicated team dealing with the enquiries and potential cases arising from the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust maternity scandal, headed by Beth Heath.

Lanyon Bowdler is a leading law firm across our region (and a Top 200 UK law firm) with a dedicated team of Medical Negligence Solicitors. Our specialist team includes an in-house doctor and two nurses and a midwife so we bring the highest medical understanding and legal expertise to each claim.

Our clinical negligence team is ranked in the highest categories in legal directors - tier 1 of The Legal 500 and band 1 in Chambers UK.

We are on the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Solicitors Panel and the AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents, a UK charity for patient safety and justice) specialist clinical negligence panel.

Our clinical negligence team has been awarded the Specialist Quality Mark, awarded by the Legal Services Commission. This is a testament to the level of expertise and experience in the team and is a prestigious appointment.

Contact Our Maternity Care Negligence Specialists

If you have been affected or harmed in any way due to inadequate or negligent Maternity Care at The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, then please get in touch with us to talk.

If you feel that your family has suffered due to negligent pre or post-natal healthcare anywhere in England & Wales, our team of specialists has the legal expertise and clinical acumen to help you decide whether you have grounds to make a claim for compensation.

With offices in Shrewsbury, Hereford, Conwy, Ludlow, Oswestry, Bromyard & Telford, Lanyon Bowdler are one of the most recognisable law firms in Shropshire, Herefordshire & North Wales specialising in clinical negligence claims. We regularly act for clients on medical claims from Birmingham, Worcester, Stafford, and right across the Midlands as well as into Cheshire and nationwide. We can support your family wherever you are.

We are experts in medical negligence and dealing with parents who have suffered the loss of a child or had an injury during birth due to negligence.

You are in safe hands.

Our people are your team and we will sensitively guide and direct you through the process of making a claim and hold your hand throughout the process.

Testimonials

I was very happy that I used Lanyon Bowdler.

- Mr Richard A Cave, Wrexham

Attention to detail at all times, all business carried out directly with one solicitor.

- Mr Ian H Jones, Flint

A complete honest and friendly service from start to finish. Thank you very much. 

- Mr William Peace & Richard Peace, Ludlow

Professional and caring towards clients.

- Mr Nicky John Mullis & Mrs Alison Jane Miles, Shrewsbury

Professional, clear on expectations, prompt on responding to my questions and queries. All paperwork sent promptly and clearly marked when you required my response. 

- Miss Nicola Georgina Foster

Every step of the way you have cared, you have listened, you have supported and you have fought for us. And you have done all this in the most professional and dignified manner. 

- Mr & Mrs XB

'You really cared and wanted the best possible outcome for our son'

- Mr & Mrs Abernethy, Cheshire

Great communication and persistence with difficult defendant.

- Mr J Partington, Whitchurch

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