The official Ockenden inquiry is investigating maternity deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust. The inquiry had already been extended to include more cases, but today a leaked report indicates that 600 cases are now being examined with many more cases still to be looked at. It is thought the cases extend over a 40-year period.
Ockenden was commissioned in April 2017 by the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look into the deaths of 23 babies and mothers, allegedly as a result of poor care, at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. Maternity care at the Trust in recent years has been the subject of no fewer than six separate inquiries, including one by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The full report has not yet been published, however, the leaked report identifies:
- A long-term lack of informed consent for mothers choosing where to deliver their babies
- A long-term lack of transparency when things have gone wrong and a failure to involve families in investigations
- A failure to recognise serious incidents
Most worryingly, the report finds a long-standing culture at the Trust that ‘is toxic to improvement effort’.
Kamaljit Uppal is a Shoosmiths client who lost her son in April 2003 because he became trapped during the delivery and was effectively starved of oxygen. The post mortem report confirmed her baby died as a result of a trapped vaginal breech delivery.
Kamaljit Uppal advises that at five months she had an ultrasound scan which confirmed that her son was in a breech position but despite her request for a caesarean section her delivery plan was not changed. Kamaljit was not aware anything untoward had happened until she saw the investigation in the media. Kamaljit was subsequently contacted by the Trust and her son’s tragic death is now part of the investigation.
Kashmir Uppal, a partner in our medical negligence team who represents some of the women affected by this has said:
‘What has been leaked today is very troubling for the many women who have given birth at Shrewsbury or Telford Hospital over a number of years. We continue to investigate individual cases for those affected and welcome the findings of the full report when this has been completed.’