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30th Mar 2022

300 baby deaths or brain damage cases in ‘worst maternity scandal’ in UK history

*Content warning – descriptions of negligence may be disturbing for some readers*

Women were frequently denied caesarean sections and forced to suffer traumatic births.

A major report has revealed how hundreds of babies died or were left brain damaged at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

The five-year investigation was launched after thousands of complaints and allegations of poor maternity care were made against the trust.

It is believed that at least 12 mothers died while giving birth and some families lost more than one child.

The investigation, led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden, looks into the experiences of 1,500 families and mothers who were forced to suffer traumatic births.

A shocking lack of staff, training, and oversight of maternity wards were all factors in the gross negligence. An alleged fixation with natural birth targets meant mothers were frequently denied caesarean sections.

Tragically, some babies were born stillborn, some died shortly after birth, and some were left severely brain damaged. Others suffered horrific and avoidable fractures or broken bones.

Some babies developed cerebral palsy following the use of forceps during delivery, while others were starved of oxygen, resulting in brain injuries.

The trust previously said it took full responsibility for the failings and has paid out more than £58m in clinical negligence damages and costs since 2000.

But the new report highlights how the trust continuously failed to learn from its actions as “failures in care were repeated from one incident to the next”.

Ms Ockenden told the Sunday Times that families had been “silenced or ignored” for years.

“There were numerous opportunities for the system to wake up and realise that there was a problem at this trust,” she said.

“There have been a number of occasions where families tried to be heard over many years and were silenced or ignored.

“We have seen families that have been split apart, families where relationships have been broken, cases of trauma and PTSD that have persisted for years after the event as well as terrible, terrible sadness. At times, after meeting families, I went back to my hotel room and I cried.”