A review into an unprecedented baby death scandal was described as a ‘cover up’ last night by grieving families.
It is investigating more than 220 suspicious incidents at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals in what could be the NHS’s worst maternity crisis.
The Daily Mail has learned it is being overseen by a panel of experts accused of being implicated in the scandal.
Rhiannon Davies from Ludlow, Shropshire, pictured with her daughter Kate moments after she was born on March 1, 2009. The infant died just six hours later
Richard Stanton, pictured with his wife Rhiannon Stanton-Davies, pictured, accused the NHS trust of trying to cover up the cause of their daughter’s death
An investigating has been launched into more than 220 incidents at the NHS trust involved
They include the head of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which produced a damning report into the trust two years ago that went unpublished.
Instead, the college was paid by the trust to write up a glowing ‘progress update’ nine months later which essentially whitewashed their own findings. Had the college published its first report – or alerted NHS watchdogs – subsequent tragedies may have been avoided.
The review’s panel also includes the head of the Royal College of Midwives, which for years has been obsessed with women having natural births rather than caesareans.
This agenda has been partly blamed for the problems at Shrewsbury and some mothers said they were dissuaded from having any medical interventions.
Furthermore, the Royal College of Midwives is the union representing those midwives from the trust whose poor care led to tragedy.
The panel also includes two officials from NHS Improvement, the regulator which failed to pick up on the trust’s higher-than-average baby death rate.
Families believe the appointments have been put in place to water-down the review’s findings.
Rhiannon Davies, whose daughter Kate died in 2009 due to failings at the trust said: ‘This is a complete and utter cover up. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make deep, lasting, positive change and they’re trying to cover it up. NHS Improvement have chosen to invite some highly inappropriate individuals who have proven themselves to be politically motivated, self-serving and in Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital’s pocket.’
Today would have been Kate’s tenth birthday but she died just six hours after she was born.
Today would have been the couple’s tenth birthday had she not died six hours after her birth
Kayleigh Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died in April 2016 from an infection which wasn’t picked up by midwives, said: ‘We are extremely concerned that the review will no longer be independent.’ The review was launched by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt in April 2017 to investigate 23 deaths and other incidents. But dozens of other families came forward and the team are now looking at between 220 and 230 cases, all from the last two decades.
The total number of babies who have died or been harmed is expected to eclipse the tragedy at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay in Cumbria. There, 16 babies and three women died unnecessarily over ten years. The failures at Shrewsbury have been pinned on a lack of training, a culture of denial and a failure to intervene when labours went wrong.
The review is being headed by a highly experienced and independent midwife, Donna Ockenden, and a team of investigators. But yesterday families were told that this team reports to a six-strong ‘independent review panel.’
They include Lesley Reagan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives and Dr Kathy McLean and Lorna Squires of NHS Improvement. It is due to publish its findings in 2020.
Last November the trust was placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission over concerns about its maternity services and A&E units.
NHS Improvement chief Dr Kathy McLean said: ‘The review remains independent and NHS Improvement will ensure families are given the answers they need and that lessons are learnt.’
A Royal College of Midwives spokesman said the review would provide ‘important lessons’.