Police investigate death of 15 babies at Countess of Chester Hospital

Cheshire Police has launched an investigation into the deaths of 15 babies at the Countess of Chester hospital.

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Police investigation into the death of 15 babies at the Countess of Chester hospital

Police have been called in to investigate the deaths of 15 babies at the Countess of Chester hospital.

They will also look into six further cases where babies had potentially life-threatening heart or breathing problems.

Only six months ago a report into the hospital by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health gave 24 recommendations for improvement.

The report also highlighted concerns over blotches on the bodies of some of the babies who had died which doctors couldn't explain.

There is still a mystery about what's gone wrong - and the police need to establish if any of the deaths were due to unnatural causes.

Our correspondent Elaine Willcox reports.

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Countess of Chester hospital statement on investigation into death of 15 babies

Countess of Chester hospital

A Countess of Chester hospital spokeswoman said an independent clinical review into neonatal services had been carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the results had been published earlier this year.

The spokeswoman said: "This report pointed to 24 recommendations for improvement, which are now under way.

"It included a further detailed case note review by an independent neonatologist that has been unable to answer all of the questions regarding the cause of death for a number of babies.

"The trust and its doctors have continuing concerns about the unexplained deaths and are very keen to understand that everything possible has been done to help determine the causes of death in our neonatal unit between June 2015 and June 2016.

"As a hospital, we have taken the clinical review as far as we can. We have now asked for the input of Cheshire police to seek assurances that enable us to rule out unnatural causes of death."

Countess of Chester Hospital medical director Ian Harvey said:

We are deeply sorry for the further distress and heartache this will cause. Throughout this we have never lost sight of the families left bereaved by the loss of their baby, and they will continue to be our main concern.

At every point where the hospital has been able to share information with families and the public, we have done so. Approaching the police is not something we have undertaken lightly.

This is to ensure we have been completely thorough in understanding what has happened here and to get the answers we and the families so desperately want.”

– Countess of Chester Hospital Medical Director Ian Harvey
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