Six months on from the Ockenden Report, grieving families in Shropshire are still coming forward
It's been six months since an independent review into maternity care in Shropshire found hundreds of cases of poor care, including babies and mothers who died or were left seriously injured.
And tonight, ITV News Central can reveal more cases are still coming forward. I've been speaking to two families, both of whom suffered stillbirths this year. They shared their stories, and some photographs of their babies after their stillbirths, in the hope it might help others.
A teddy bear, a memory box, and a framed piece of clay imprinted by tiny hands and feet.
These are just a few of the things Iona Daykin has to remember her son, Jahmari, who was stillborn in January just six months into her pregnancy.
“I haven’t been able to come to terms with it,” she said.
“It’s hard - every single day you go outside and you see someone with a baby. And I’m happy for them.
“But it’s like… where’s mine?”
She went into hospital in Telford in January with reduced foetal movement - and they noticed her baby’s pulse was usually high. She also had protein and blood in her urine.
She was sent for additional scans, but was then sent home, and told everything was fine.
She says she was still concerned though, and four days later she took herself back.
Another scan confirmed her worst fears. Just six months into her pregnancy, her baby had died.
And nine months later, she’s still waiting to find out why - with the report from the post mortem examination still not sent through.
“I just felt like we were fobbed off. They told us there were concerns and they did nothing with them, they just sent us home,” she said.
“I don’t know what happened to my boy. And that was in January.
“Just answers and closure would be great.”
Her loss came after the cut-off date for the independent review led by midwife Donna Ockenden, which identified widespread failings by the maternity service at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust.
Read: Ockenden report: Shocking scale of NHS maternity scandal laid bare as 100s of babies stillborn
Read: What it's been like to report on the biggest maternity scandal in the NHS
Since then, the Trust insists it has made improvements - though has refused to make anybody available to discuss them, despite ITV News Central first requesting an interview in July, and then repeatedly since.
It says that of the 52 actions recommended by the interim Ockenden report released in 2020, it’s implemented 87% of them; and of the 158 actions set out in the final report in March, it says it’s managed to implement 28%.
But just one day after the final report was published, another mother was admitted to hospital.
Hazel Harwood went in to be induced at the 40-week point, having been classed as a high risk pregnancy, with some signs of pre-eclampsia.
She says she repeatedly asked whether a C-section would be safer, but was pushed towards a so-called ‘natural’ delivery - something which came up time and again from families included in the Ockenden report, and which was criticised heavily within in.
After a prolonged labour, made longer by staffing shortages, Mia’s heart stopped beating. She was stillborn on April 3rd.
“I just keep thinking, had they done something sooner, I’d be walking around with a stroller, and taking her on group trips out,” she said.
“We had so many plans of things we were going to do… and now, it’s nothing.”
A report by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch released just this week has identified failings on one particular aspect of her care, which it says might have changed the outcome.
Hazel says she had known about the Ockenden review - but hoped it had already made a difference.
“I read everything, I saw all of the documentaries about it,” she said.
“You automatically think that because everything is going on, they’re going to be extra careful, but they’re just making the same mistakes - they’ve not learned anything.
“They’re still avoiding C-sections, they’re still not listening to families.”
Legal firm Lanyon Bowdler is currently dealing with 135 cases against the Trust. Including 60 stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
Head of Clinical Negligence, Beth Heath, said eight had come forward in 2020, two more in 2021 and two in 2022.
"It shows to me that it isn't a historic problem at the trust and even if improvements are being made, they are too slow because these tragedies are still happening,” she said.
ITV News Central has approached Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust several times since July, requesting an interview with chief executive Louise Barnett to discuss the improvements it says it is making.
However, each time, it has refused.
Instead, tonight, the Trust issued a statement regarding Iona's and Hazel's experiences.
Director of nursing Hayley Flavell said: “On behalf of the Trust, I send my sincere condolences to Mrs Harwood and Miss Daykin, and their families, for their losses.
"On the sad occurrence of a stillbirth at our Trust we follow a robust and thoroughinvestigation process which makes us accountable to families as well as external bodies,and we act on all recommendations to improve the service and care we provide."
She said she encouraged both women to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to discuss their concerns.