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Shropshire baby deaths: Review cases rise to 215

More than 200 families have raised concerns about maternity care at a hospital trust being investigated over a cluster of deaths and injuries.

The government-ordered review into Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (SaTH) has now widened for a third time after initially focusing on 23 cases.

The trust said 215 families had now come forward alleging maternity errors.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock put the trust in special measures less than a week ago amid patient safety concerns.

It was already reporting to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) because of concerns about maternity and emergency services at its two sites – The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and The Princess Royal in Telford.

In August the scope of the review into alleged maternity failings between 1998 and 2017 was expanded to look at 40 cases.

Soon after it was further broadened to take in 100.

It is understood not all the new cases relate to death and serious harm and some fall outside the scope of the review.

Michael Buchanan, BBC social affairs correspondent

This is now shaping up to be one of the biggest crises in maternity care in the history of the NHS.

In a statement to BBC News, the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust said 215 families had now come forward alleging maternity errors.

Of the 91 who’ve submitted those directly to the trust, 36 said their babies had died and 22 alleged their children had suffered permanent harm as a result of the trust’s mistakes.

While not every family who has come forward with questions about the care they received will have been failed, long standing problems at the trust, including an inability to hire enough staff and a culture that failed to place much, if any, emphasis on learning from incidents, continues to see more families come forward.

Many see the Ockenden Review as their final chance to answer the questions they’ve long harboured.

The trust have tried to paint this all as a legacy problem, but some of the deaths now being investigated happened as recently as last December.

And concerns about current maternity care, as well as A&E services and a loss of trust by regulators in the management’s ability to improve care, all contributed to the trust being placed in special measures last week.

Dr Kathy McLean, from NHS Improvement which is overseeing the review, said: “Every possible case has and will be taken into account as part of the investigation, to help ensure that lessons are learnt”.

The trust said it was co-operating fully with the review, which is being led by midwife Donna Ockenden.

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BBC News – Health