Families silenced or ignored, says midwife behind review into maternity care

A final report of the independent review of maternity services at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust will be published on Wednesday.

26 March 2022

Families have been “silenced or ignored”, a former senior midwife leading a major inquiry into maternity care has said ahead of her report’s publication.

Three hundred babies died or were left brain damaged due to avoidable errors in care, the independent review will state when published this week, according to The Sunday Times.

Baby deaths and allegations of poor maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) have been reviewed by the Ockenden independent inquiry.

Donna Ockenden is the former senior midwife leading the major independent inquiry (House of Commons/PA)
Donna Ockenden is the former senior midwife leading the major independent inquiry (House of Commons/PA)

The inquiry was set up in 2017 by the then health secretary Jeremy Hunt and is reviewing 1,862 families’ experiences.

It is led by Donna Ockenden, who is currently the senior midwifery adviser to the chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

At least 12 mothers died while giving birth and some families lost more than one child, the Sunday Times said the report will show.

The newspaper quoted Ms Ockenden as saying: “There were numerous opportunities for the system to wake up and realise that there was a problem at this trust. There have been a number of occasions where families tried to be heard over many years and were silenced or ignored.”

She added: “We have seen families that have been split apart, families where relationships have been broken, cases of trauma and PTSD that have persisted for years after the event as well as terrible, terrible sadness. At times, after meeting families, I went back to my hotel room and I cried.”

An interim report published in December 2020 highlighted a range of failures including not properly listening to parents.

The review said maternity staff had caused distress to patients by using “inappropriate language” and blaming grieving mothers for their loss.

A spokeswoman for the team involved in the final report, due to be published on Wednesday, said they would not be making any comment before then.

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