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Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust placed under special measures

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is now under special measures. Credit: PA

A hospital trust at the centre of an investigation into baby deaths has been placed under special measures.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust now finds itself under the supervision of NHS Improvement after it emerged that more than 100 cases of alleged poor care are to be reviewed.

Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: "While Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has been working through its many challenges, it is important that the trust is able to deliver the high-quality care that patients deserve.

"The time is right to ramp up our help by placing the trust in special measures."

A series of allegedly "avoidable" baby deaths at the NHS Trust are already being investigated by the Health Secretary.

The "avoidable deaths" occurred over a two-year period at the Trust.

A failure to properly monitor the baby's heart rate is said to have been a contributory factor in five of seven deaths.

The Trust's maternity services were severely criticised in an official report published last year.

The letter from Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirming the move.

In August, the Trust was subject to a number of unannounced visits by health inspectors, after which further concerns were raised.

A letter from Health Secretary Matt Hancock announcing the special measures news was published on Thursday following recommendations from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

He revealed that the decision had been made for "reasons of quality", and cited "ongoing concerns" about the Trust's performance.

The measure is aimed to ensure patient safety.

Kate Stanton-Davies, pictured with her mother Rhiannon, died in 2009. Her death sparked questions into the Trust. Credit: Family handout

In his letter, Mr Hancock said: "It is clearly disappointing to see the Trust being placed in special measures.

"However, in light of ongoing concerns about the Trust's quality and performance and recent concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission, I believe that this is the right decision to take to ensure safe services for patients."

He added: "Clearly there is a lot of work to be done. NHS improvement will support the Trust to deliver the highest quality of care for patients, and I will continue to closely monitor developments at the Trust."

The Trust's chief executive said that it had been "trying to fix a number of legacy problems".

"These issues have been many years in the making. This is a huge challenge and putting things right is not an easy matter," Simon Wright said.

"Over the last few weeks we have been discussing with NHS Improvement what extra support could be made available if the trust was placed in special measures.

"We absolutely welcome that extra support that comes with special measures and NHS Improvement's support for the trust's leadership to make the necessary improvements."

The CQC previously said unannounced inspections of some services at the Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital had led to concerns about its reduced foetal movements guidelines at its maternity services.

Such guidelines direct clinicians on how to care for pregnant women whose babies have reduced their movements, which is sometimes a sign that a baby is unwell.

Inspectors also raised concerns about the trust's urgent and emergency care, particularly with regard to the treatment and recognition of sepsis - a potentially life-threatening complication of infection.

Conditions placed on the trust include weekly reporting on the action it is taking "to ensure the system in place for clinical management of patients using midwifery services at The Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals is effective", the CQC previously said in a statement.

A similar requirement has also been placed upon its urgent and emergency care services.