A hospital has refuted claims that more cases of poor care have been found at its beleaguered maternity unit.
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust has said reports that more babies and mothers died or suffered serious injuries are “factually incorrect and untrue”.
Senior midwife Donna Ockenden was appointed last year to review 23 cases of alleged poor maternity care at the NHS trust.
The trust said it has also written to 12 other families to seek permission for their care to be reviewed as there “may be potential for further learning”.
Chief executive Simon Wright said: “The death of any baby is a terrible ordeal for any family.
“We take our responsibilities in reviewing these cases very seriously.
“To suggest that there are more cases which have not been revealed when this is simply untrue is irresponsible and scaremongering.
“This will cause unnecessary anxiety amongst women going through one of the most important times of their life and I would like to assure them that our maternity services are a safe environment with dedicated caring staff.”
The trust said it has reviewed 40 cases, 23 of which had no signs of failure of care and five of which the families could not be contacted.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that more than 60 cases, including baby deaths, brain injuries and deaths of mothers, have been identified.
Rhiannon Davies, whose daughter Kate Stanton-Davies died nine years ago, told the HSJ: “Unlike what I was led to believe in 2009 Kate was not the first avoidable death at the trust.
“Yet no one bothered to learn and so sealed her fate – and mine, and that causes me almost unbearable pain.”
The 44-year-old, of Ludlow, Shropshire, added: “There are lots more cases now and all that learning could be lost because things will be missed.”
Her husband and Kate’s father, Richard Stanton, told the Press Association: “It doesn’t surprise me – it deeply saddens me.”
He also welcomed the move to bring all the investigations under the umbrella of the Ockenden review, so there could be “consistency” with cases looked at “with the same eye”.
Mr Stanton, 48, and his wife, who also have a six-year-old daughter Isabella, described the trust’s performance in handling the issue, to date, as “woeful”.
He added: “They’ve put out a press release, saying ‘it’s only 12 (cases identified)’.
“But even one is one too many, if it’s avoidable.
“In my view, there’s serious questions for the leadership, management, governance and policies at this trust, as it’s been a systemic failure.”
Kayleigh Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died in 2016 after midwives ignored signs of a serious infection, said the trust is “not open to change”.
“There are going to be more cases as families are coming forward,” she told the HSJ.
Dr Kathy McLean, executive medical director and chief operating officer at NHS Improvement, said: “Our independent review will consider everything it can to ensure Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is equipped to learn from the previous failings in its maternity and neonatal services.
“This includes continuing to examine the 23 historical investigations identified in April 2017, as well as investigations that have been highlighted since then.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We take any patient safety concerns extremely seriously – we have asked NHS Improvement to investigate whether further cases at Shrewsbury and Telford should be considered as part of the Ockenden Review, as well as assurance that the Trust has taken steps to improve maternity services since these issues came to light in 2016.”