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Maternity issues lead to multiple claims against NHS Trust.


An NHS trust facing a review into maternity errors has paid out millions of pounds in compensation after similar mistakes led to babies born with brain injuries.

The health secretary has ordered a new review into the deaths of five babies at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, which is already under scrutiny for its investigations into the deaths of babies caused by errors in labour.

There were at least seven avoidable deaths at the trust between September 2014 and May 2016. Failures to properly monitor and analyse the foetal heart rate through CTG traces contributed to five of the deaths.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), now NHS Resolution, gave the trust  £183,000 in May 2015 to improve its CTG performance.

An analysis of NHSLA figures shows in the past decade the trust has paid out nearly £25m in compensation and legal fees for maternity errors, with brain injuries payments being the single largest category.

Brain injuries at birth can happen for several reasons, including a failure to ensure oxygen gets to the baby's brain, or a head injury, such as through the incorrect use of forceps, during the baby’s delivery.

Brain injuries compensation can reach millions of pounds due to the victim’s needs that can last their whole lifetime.

Shrewsbury and Telford trust's maternity department has paid out £24.3m in compensation and legal fees since 2007, according to official NHS figures.

The money relates to at least 34 settled claims, including 14 brain injuries, eight baby deaths, one mother's death and 11 other mistakes, including babies born with physical injuries due to errors in labour.

The total compensation figure is among the highest paid out during the last decade by comparable obstetrics units, based on the number of deliveries and type of unit as categorised by the official MBRRACE-UK study into perinatal deaths.

The charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AVMA) has also called for a much wider inquiry into the trust.

Chief executive, Peter Walsh, said: "These figures are very worrying. There should be an independent, in-depth investigation into the root causes of the lapses in patient safety that have caused such terrible harm. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch should be asked to get to the bottom of the problems at this trust."

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said: "Claims can be brought and resolved many years after incidents occur. Taking this into account, along with the further period taken up by the litigation process itself, the sums paid out in recent years offer little insight into the maternity services we have provided since 2007.

"NHS Resolution has received 50 claims for compensation relating to maternity on behalf of the Trust since 2007. However, the majority of these claims are in connection with incidents that happened before that date. Only one claim for brain injury occurred after 2007."