Cases involving stillbirths, neonatal deaths or baby brain damage, as well as a small number of maternal deaths, have been referred to an independent maternity examination, led by midwifery expert Donna Ockenden. They bring the total number of cases examined to 1,862.
They will also be turned over to West Mercia Police, who last month opened a criminal investigation into the trust’s maternity services. Detectives are trying to determine if there is enough evidence to lay charges of manslaughter against the trust or manslaughter against the personnel involved.
The additional 496 cases have now surfaced because an ‘open book’ initiative led by the NHS in 2018 only requested digital records of cases identified as a cause of serious concern.
The vast majority of the additional 496 cases were only recorded in paper documents.
Ockenden’s review was ordered by then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2017 after families of two babies who died under the trust regime raised concerns about their case and these 21 other.
They include Rhiannon Davies, whose daughter Kate died in 2009, and campaigned for the NHS to reveal the true scale of the scandal.
Speaking to The Guardian, she said: “These additional cases definitely fuel my concern that someone involved in the open book review has not been fully opened. If it was really open, why did it take so long to find these records. Why were these 496s only found now? ”
Davies, who also led a successful campaign against the NHS imposing an oversight committee on the Ockenden review, added: ‘We no longer want unwanted interference from external bodies such as NHS England or the Department of Health in the Ockenden review team. They must be left alone to continue their work. ”
The chief executive of the trust, Louise Barnett, issued an open apology to the residents of Shrewsbury and Telford. “Our standards have been insufficient for many families and I deeply apologize for that,” she said.
“We should have provided much better care to these families at what has been one of the most important moments of their lives and we have let them down.
The additional cases mean maternity failures in Shropshire could eclipse the Mid Staffordshire scandal, so far the worst in NHS history. A review of this confidence revealed that between 400 and 1,200 patients died as a result of poor care between January 2005 and March 2009.
Ockenden hopes to release interim results later this year.
She said, “The trust worked closely with the review team throughout this process and provided us with all the information requested. Working together, we unfortunately identified 496 other families as part of the review, which I am writing to this week.
“It is now very important that we focus our efforts on performing all clinical reviews so that we can make meaningful recommendations to improve services and give families the answers they requested. We intend to publish initial and emerging recommendations for maternity services at the end of the year.
“In order to give us time to write the final report, any new cases that emerge from now on will have to go directly to the trust, for them to review, rather than coming to the review team. maternity.
The NHS has been asked for comment.