Advising with empathy and experience

News and Events

The Ockenden Report - listening and learning.

View profile for Kim Daniells
  • Posted
  • Author

The television coverage of the Ockenden report this week has revealed the human cost of the failings at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.  The scale of the tragic results of those failings becomes apparent when it is reflected in whole empty classrooms.  The lifelong personal impact is reflected in the individual empty nurseries and bedrooms and in the accounts of those who, often in the most harrowing of circumstances, lost babies.

For others, the impact of events at Shrewsbury and Telford is reflected in children, and now young adults, who face a life coping with disability and difficulty solely because of those failings in care.

Those of us who have dealt with clinical negligence claims arising from the death of mums or babies or from the profound injuries that can be caused at birth, have a very small degree of insight into the physical, emotional, practical and financial challenges that these families face now, and in the years ahead.  We know from experience that when problems occur at a Trust, families often have to battle to establish what happened, but for us, the sheer scale of  issues at Shrewsbury and Telford is difficult to comprehend. 

The reality is that the report and the review did not take place because a Trust was concerned about its own record, but came about solely because those who had suffered asked questions, repeatedly, even as the Trust refused to listen, ignored the questions and denied there was a problem.

Pregnancy and childbirth are intensely personal experiences and the suffering we have heard this week suggests trauma so devastating that it would be impossible for many to bear, let alone to talk about openly to the press and to strangers.

It is a tribute to the families that were so ill-served by the Trust that they feel able to talk honestly about what happened.  It is because of their courage and perseverance that the recommendations in the Ockenden report exist.  We now have to hope that the NHS maternity units up and down the country can learn from the recommendations but also from these brave voices. 

This blog has raised the issue of the patient's voice on a number of occasions. If there is one lesson to learn from the tragic events at Shrewsbury and Telford, it is that the patient's voice must be welcomed, respected and listened to ... and put at the very heart of care provision.