1. ITV Report

Report into increased deaths of premature babies at Chester Hospital

60 babies a week born in Chester maternity unit Photo: PA

An independent review has taken place into the deaths of 13 premature babies at the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

The "unexpected and unexplained" deaths were all between January 2015 and July 2016.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health made 24 recommendations about standards and staffing at the neonatal unit.

Since July the hospital has stopped treating very premature babies. Mothers expected to give birth more than eight weeks early are transferred to another hospital. This arrangement will continue until the hospital has acted on all the recommendations made in the report.

Report focuses on babies born before 32 weeks. Credit: PA

The report says there is no single cause or factor that explains the increase in deaths of premature babies. It recommends a further review of each neonatal death between January 2015 and July 2016 to see if any factors could have changed the outcomes.

We’ve acted swiftly to get the 13 individual external case note reviews completed as advised by the Royal College. This has been a detailed exercise, concluded within the last two weeks. This means that when we speak with parents we can now share full and accurate information, on an individual basis. We are desperately sorry for any distress or upset this review has caused. We know those families affected have been through so much already.

– Ian Harvey, Medical Director, The Countess of Chester
Chief Executive Tony Chambers Credit: Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Throughout this we have never lost sight of the families left bereaved by the loss of their baby, and they have always been our primary concern. It must have been devastating for them to lose their baby, and then face a period of not knowing. We are now able to share everything that we understand about what has happened here and our thoughts are with them.

– Tony Chambers, Chief Executive, The Countess of Chester
Increased neo-natal mortality rates 2015 and 2016 Credit: PA