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Trust launches probe into five maternal death ‘tragedies’

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A hospital trust in the West Midlands has launched an investigation into five “maternal deaths” over the past 18 months.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust will host an internal inquiry into the “serious incidents” to find out what went wrong before seeking external advice.

“It is always very sad when anyone dies in our care”

Paula Gardner

Two of the maternal deaths – defined as when a woman dies during or shortly after pregnancy – occurred over the last four months.

Trust chief nurse Paula Gardner said inquests had been held into three of the cases and the coroner determined the mothers died of “natural causes”.

She added that the trust’s own probe into those three deaths found its staff were not to blame. 

“It is always very sad when anyone dies in our care and we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those affected,” Ms Gardner said. 

“As with all serious incidents, an internal investigation is carried out into why they occurred,” she said. “The chief executive and I will then commission external advice to support the trust and the maternity team to learn for the future.

“By being open about what has happened, we believe that local people should retain confidence in the integrity of the organisation’s commitment to safety and quality,” said Ms Gardner.

Paula Gardner

Ms Gardner highlighted that the families affected and the staff involved had been given bereavement support.

The deaths were revealed by the trust’s chief executive Toby Lewis in his report to board members at a meeting today.

He said: “Over the next two months we will also complete exploratory investigative work into five maternal deaths over the past eighteen months.

“This work will frame any external advice we commission to help to understand what we can learn from these tragedies, of which two have occurred over the last four months,” Mr Lewis added.

The trust delivers maternity services from Birmingham City Hospital. 

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