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NHS trust apologises over 'exceptionally high' maternal deaths

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An 'exceptionally high' number of maternal deaths has prompted an apology by Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in South Wales

A review of the trust's maternity unit by the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) found that seven women within its catchment area had died between 2005 and November 2007.

After concerns were identified by Welsh Assembly health minister Edwina Hart, the unit was placed in special measures and the trust obliged to address the problems.

An HIW report said: 'When compared with the rate of maternal deaths for the whole of England and Wales as reported to the national Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), we found the rate to be exceptionally high.'

It added that 'earlier identification of deterioration, or better advance preparation to manage identified risk, may have averted the deaths'.

Among its findings was the death of a woman prior to giving birth after a medical emergency, and of two who had been discharged but died of events 'probably directly connected with their pregnancies'.

Another woman died only two-and-a-half weeks after the birth of her baby and her discharge from the acute maternity unit to community care.

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