A review into baby deaths and maternity services at a scandal-hit NHS hospital trust wants to hear from current and former staff.
In December last year, an independent inquiry led by senior midwife Donna Ockenden found newborn babies’ skulls were fractured and medical staff at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH) had blamed grieving mothers for the deaths of their children.
Ms Ockenden said her review team now wanted to hear the views of staff, past and present, going back to 2000.
She is keen to “understand from current and former staff their experiences of what it was like to work in the trust’s maternity services”.
Any responses will be treated confidentially, kept within the review team, with no staff, either past or present, identified in any final report – expected to be published by the end of the year.
Ms Ockenden, who chairs the review, said: “It is very important that staff voices are heard as part of our review as this will really help
our understanding of maternity services during this time period.
“Any former members of staff who were employed to work directly in the maternity services at the trust and current staff can take part in this survey.
“This can include but is not limited to doctors, midwives, anaesthetists, obstetricians, nurses, support workers, administrators, theatre staff, porters and managers.
“There will also be an opportunity for some staff to participate in more detailed confidential conversations with review team members if they wish to.”
The inquiry into deaths and allegations of poor care at SaTH was set up in 2017 by the then Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and is reviewing 1,862 families’ experiences of care.
It is the largest number of clinical reviews undertaken relating to a single service, as part of an inquiry, in the history of the NHS.
Ms Ockenden’s damning report said “one of the most disappointing and deeply worrying themes” was the “reported lack of kindness and compassion from some members of the maternity team at the trust”.
Following its publication, the trust’s chief executive apologised for the “pain and distress” caused to mothers and families due to poor maternity care – after the review found staff had been “flippant”, “abrupt” and “dismissive”.
The review also said the deaths of Kate Stanton Davies in 2009 and Pippa Griffiths in 2016 – whose families had campaigned tirelessly for an independent review into maternity care at the trust – “were avoidable”.
Ms Ockenden’s report identified 27 local actions for learning for the SaTH, which are essential improvements aimed at boosting patient safety, and seven other key actions for both the trust and maternity services, nationally.
SaTH set up a panel to monitor improvement progress in March, 2021.
That same month, NHS England committed to investing £95 million in maternity care, nationally, to strengthen workforce numbers, training and development programmes to support culture and leadership, as well as bolstering board assurance and surveillance to identify issues earlier.
Ms Ockenden said her team were now focusing on the completing clinical reviews to enable the next report to be published.