Maternity safety across NHS to be investigated as ongoing crisis in Shropshire adds to string of care scandals

Maternity safety continues to be of concern across the country. Credit: ITV News Central

Recurrent failings in maternity safety, such as the ones which led to the ongoing scandal at Shropshire’s hospitals, are to be investigated by MPs.

The Safety of Maternity Services in England inquiry will be led by the Health and Social Care Committee, and will examine why there continues to be significant concerns about the safety of mothers and babies in English hospitals.

It will also look at the extent to which a “blame culture” affects both medical advice and decision-making by staff and leaders, how staff training can be improved, and the quality of advice being given to pregnant women.  

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is now the chair of the Committee, said: “The death of a baby when something goes wrong is a tragedy for a family. When we’ve seen a pattern of baby deaths, we must be confident that failings that contributed to them have been addressed and lessons learned. 

“However, the safety of our maternity services continues to be a matter of concern. 

“We’ll be looking at the evidence that’s been gathered to date and whether recommendations are being acted upon to ensure that lasting improvements are made to safeguard the lives of mothers and their babies.”

The inquiry will look at investigations carried out following incidents at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust, as well as others at East Kent Hospitals Trust and the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust.

Mr Hunt said the crises at these trusts indicated that "high standards have not been spread to every corner of the NHS".

MPs are now calling for evidence to be submitted to the inquiry.

Among items of interest are:

  • What changes might be needed to clinical negligence and litigation processes to improve maternity services

  • The advice and guidance give to pregnant women about natural births, home births and C-sections; and whether this is affected by a fear of the “blame culture”

  • Training and support given to maternity staff, and what improvements are needed

  • Whether the data collected on maternity safety is adequate in its current form

It comes after an independent review into the maternity scandal in Shropshire revealed it was now dealing with 1,862 cases of alleged poor care at the Trust - up from 23 when it was first ordered by then-Health Secretary Mr Hunt in 2017.

And the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of hospitals, Ted Baker, warned NHS England that poor care at Shrewsbury & Telford was becoming “normalised”.

Evidence can be submitted to the inquiry until September 4.