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Hospital baby deaths review extended.

An independent review into a series of hospital baby deaths is to be extended after more families came forward with concerns about their care.

In 2017 the then health secretary,  Jeremy Hunt, ordered an investigation into maternity care relating to 23 cases at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (SaTH).

Now this has increased to more than 40, but the Trust, which says it has worked openly with the investigation, said the new cases were already in the public domain.

Senior midwife Donna Ockenden was appointed in 2018 to review 23 cases, including baby deaths, maternal deaths and brain injuries, of alleged poor maternity care at the trust.

An NHS Improvement spokesman said it had to agreed: "to consider additional historical investigations that have been highlighted since our independent review was announced in April 2017, where women, infants and new-born babies had died or suffered harm in the maternity services provided by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

"This includes cases that the Trust had considered as part of its legacy review, as well as the finding of the review it commissioned the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to undertake."

Richard Stanton, 48, whose daughter Kate Stanton-Davies died nine years ago, said:

"In my view, there's serious questions for the leadership, management, governance and policies at this Trust, as it's been a systemic failure."

Hayley Matthews's son Jack Burn was born in March 2015 but died of hypoxia and Group B Strep within hours.

She said that throughout her 36-hour labour at Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, she was refused a caesarean section several times and had a natural birth during which her son's shoulder was trapped.

She said: "It makes you angry, all these parents going through what I went through three years ago. They said changes have been made but we're failing to see any."

Devan and Gavin Cadwallader's daughter died at the Princess Royal Hospital in December 2018 after Devan had complained to staff that her baby's movements had slowed. She was reassured that everything was fine but, after three days in hospital, was told her daughter had no heartbeat.

A post-mortem failed to find a cause of death but the couple believes it was preventable.

Last summer, the Trust asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to carry out a review of its maternity services, which revealed a number of problems.

The college said in a report that there was no apparent culture of learning from incidents and the lack of staff, particularly midwives and consultants, was a patient safety issue.

SaTH said it had reviewed 40 cases, 23 of which had no signs of care failings and five where the families could not be contacted.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "We have asked NHS Improvement to investigate whether further cases at Shrewsbury and Telford should be considered as part of the Ockenden Review, as well as assurance that the Trust has taken steps to improve maternity services since these issues came to light in 2016."