Criminal probe launched into NHS hospital trust over complaints about maternity care

30 June 2020, 17:16

The Shrewsbury And Telford Hospital could be subjected to a criminal investigation
The Shrewsbury And Telford Hospital could be subjected to a criminal investigation. Picture: Getty

By Ewan Somerville

Police have launched a criminal probe into an NHS trust that is already facing scrutiny over hundreds of cases of poor maternity care.

The alleged failures at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust has been dubbed the worst maternity scandal in NHS history.

An independent review, set up in 2017, is still probing dozens of baby deaths at the trust’s hospitals.

On Tuesday West Mercia Police confirmed they have now launched a probe to see if criminal charges can be brought.

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Wessell said: “Today, 30 June 2020, we have met with NHS Improvement, The Department of Health and the independent reviewer to discuss complaints made against Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust in relation to maternity services and provision. The independent review is ongoing.

“We can confirm that a police investigation will be conducted to explore whether there is evidence to support a criminal case either against the Trust or any individuals involved. The investigation is now live so we are unable to comment any further at this time.”

A leaked secret report last year claimed that at least 42 babies and three mothers had died under the trust’s care between 1979 and 2017, with more than 50 children said to have suffered permanent brain damage.

Since then the number of alleged cases involving the deaths of babies and mothers at the trust are thought to have hiked to at least 1,200.

Earlier this year Donna Ockenden, who is leading the NHS England inquiry, said her team had heard from patients at the trust with concerns as recently as 2019.

“Many of the concerns we are looking at are amongst the most serious any of my team have seen in their entire careers,” she said at the time.

Louise Barnett, Chief Executive at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), said: “We are aware that a police investigation will be conducted by West Mercia Police to explore whether there is evidence to support a criminal case either against the Trust or any individuals involved, following complaints made against the Trust in relation to maternity services and provision. We will fully cooperate with the investigation.

“I would like to reassure all families affected that we are listening and acting on feedback.

“We are not able to comment further to avoid prejudicing the investigation.”

Anyone who has information in relation to the police investigation can contact MajorIncidentUnit@westmercia.pnn.police.uk, go through the Major Incident Public Portal or call 101.

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