A hospital trust under investigation for a catalogue of alleged maternity failings has sought to reassure families about the transparency of the inquiry, after facing fresh criticism.
In April 2017 Jeremey Hunt ordered an independent review of 23 cases of newborn, infant and mother deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).
“To suggest there are more cases which have not been revealed when this is simply untrue is irresponsible”
The trust hit the headlines again last week with claims that the inquiry had been widened due to more families coming forward with complaints. However, leaders at the trust have insisted that all the information was already in the public domain.
Simon Wright, chief executive at the trust, said: “The death of any baby is a terrible ordeal for any family. We take our responsibilities in reviewing these cases very seriously. To suggest that there are more cases which have not been revealed when this is simply untrue is irresponsible and scaremongering.”
He added: “This will cause unnecessary anxiety amongst women going through one of the most important times of their life and I would like to assure them that our maternity services are a safe environment with dedicated caring staff.”
In June this year, SaTH revealed that Mr Hunt’s announcement had led to 16 further families coming forward with concerns about their care.
Trust’s defensive attitude criticised after baby death
An additional 24 cases were also flagged by the independent midwife leading the NHS Improvement inquiry.
The trust set up a “clinical review group” to examine these 40 cases, which covered a 19-year period from 1998 and are referred to by the trust as the “legacy cases”.
Of these 40, 12 were deemed serious enough to be put forward for the NHS Improvement investigation.
Jo Banks, SaTH women and children’s care group director, has also spoken out to allay fears.
She said the trust had worked “very openly” with the NHS Improvement review, and that the 40 new cases were “fully within the domain of the public”.
Dr Kathy McLean, executive medical director and chief operating officer at NHS Improvement, said: “Our independent review will consider everything it can to ensure SaTH is equipped to learn from the previous failings in its maternity and neonatal services.”
Kathy mc lean
“This includes continuing to examine the 23 historical investigations identified in April 2017, as well as investigations that have been highlighted since then,” she said.
Dr McLean added: “Working with the Care Quality Commission and others, we will ensure the trust has the right support in place to continue to improve its services for patients.”