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A leaked report into maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust revealed by The Independent has been described as the “largest maternity scandal in NHS history”.
According to the report, at least 42 babies and 3 mothers have probably died unnecessarily, with more than 50 babies suffering avoidable brain damage at the Hospital Trust. The review covers hundreds of cases between 1979 and 2017. Sadly, the full extent of the scandal is expected to be potentially even worse as more cases are reviewed.
The report makes disturbing reading identifying a number of specific failings including a lack of transparency, honesty and communication with families, a failure to recognise serious incidents, a long-term failure to involve families in investigations that were often “inadequate”, “extremely brief” and processed by “overly defensive staff”. Worryingly, the report commented that there was a long-standing culture at the Trust “…that is toxic to improvement effort” and many cases revealed that families were told lessons would be learnt. The report, however, concluded “It is clear that this is not correct”.
At Anthony Collins Solicitors, we sadly see numerous obstetric cases that result in death or significant injury. Aside from securing compensation, it is imperative to learn lessons from mistakes to avoid harm in the future and lead to improvement in both the individuals and the Trust concerned.
A legal duty of candour has been in place in England since 2014 stipulating that Trusts must be open and honest with patients when things go wrong that could lead to significant harm in the future. Sadly this does not appear to have been followed according to the report.
Rankeshwar Batta is the Head of the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Department here at Anthony Collins Solicitors, and has in-depth knowledge regarding these types of cases. He is committed to ensuring clients obtain access to justice but also clear explanations from the medical professionals when something has gone wrong, and how the relevant parties will make changes to stop the same thing happening again. His comments on the report are:
“It makes very sad reading when an independent report confirms numerous avoidable tragedies that occurred for almost 40 years with the real likelihood that ongoing issues are still probable at the Trust in question. Having acted for many families in similar situations over many years, I know only too well the devastation and heartbreak that this type of case causes. Taking personal responsibility when something goes wrong and involving families in a completely open and transparent way is essential as part of the improvement process”
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