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“I love my son unconditionally - but his life didn’t need to be this way”

As ITV Central works to reveal the human cost behind the Shropshire maternity scandal, one mother speaks about the lifelong disabilities her son now lives with - which she blames on poor care at birth.

  • Full video report by Charlotte Cross

Adam Cheshire will always need carers to look after him.

He’s now nine years old - but developmentally, he's around four.

He has severe hearing and sight impairments, and respiratory problems - as well as debilitating learning difficulties, and autism.

And his family believe his conditions are only as serious as they are because of alleged medical failings when he was born.

“Adam’s life didn’t need to be this way,” his mother, the Rev Charlotte Cheshire, told ITV Central.

“I love Adam unconditionally just as he is. He’s my son, he’s my baby. I will always love him unconditionally. But it really feels all about the chances missed.

“It’s always looking back with those questions of ‘what if’. What if his life could have been changed by that one member of staff, or two members of staff, just doing something differently.”

Adam, who's nine, now has a developmental age of around four.

Adam was born in March 2011 at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Charlotte says she could tell he was unwell soon after, and repeatedly raised concerns with staff.

But she said she was dismissed and told he was fine.

That is, until several hours later, when he had to be rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.

Basically the moment that he’d arrived on the ‘unit’ his entire body had shut down. He’d stopped breathing. He had to be resuscitated, he was convulsing,” she said.

“It ultimately transpired that he was infected with Group B Strep meningitis, so he was in a medically-induced coma, he stopped breathing, his skin was blue. And he spent a total of 23 days in intensive care.”

Charlotte's waters broke some 29 hours before she went into labour - a known risk factor for Group B Strep.

And she says if staff had listened to her when she told them he was ill, the infection could have been stopped in its tracks.

I was saying ‘there is something wrong, and even though I didn’t know what it was, I knew there was something wrong. And they just dismissed it.

And by the time they actually caught it, it was effectively too late to stop it.

– Rev Charlotte Cheshire, Mother

Charlotte and her family left her parish in Telford just over a year ago, hoping for a new start in Huddersfield.

But she can't leave behind the questions of what could have been.

Their case forms one of the 23 which sparked the ongoing independent review in the first place - a number which has now ballooned to more than 1,000.

ITV Central has seen legal documents in which the trust makes what it calls 'limited admissions' in its care of Charlotte and Adam, including the lack of an infection risk management plan.

But bosses have denied these failures led to any lasting damage.

Adam spent a total of 23 days in intensive care. Credit: Family handout

In a statement, the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust director of midwifery, Nicola Wenlock, said the trust was working with the review.

“We take all cases extremely seriously and review each case individually,” she said.

“Having reviewed this case we have identified that there were failings in care, for which we apologise to Charlotte and her family.

“We would like to reassure all families using our maternity services that we are listening and acting on feedback.

"We recognise we still have further to go and I’d like to reassure mums-to-be and their families that we are working to ensure our care is aligned to best practice guidance.”

She said the trust had made "significant improvements" which had been highlighted by Care Quality Commission inspectors following a a visit in November.

The final inspection report has not yet been made public.

The review is now looking at hundreds of cases.

Anyone who has been affected by this week's story can find advice and support here.

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