Families affected by Shropshire maternity scandal describe pain as progress remains slow one year on

Hazel Harwood said the trust "failed" her daughter Mia

Families who have both lost babies and seen them hurt due to potential failings in maternity care in Shropshire have spoken out about their pain, as the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust admitted that progress had been slow in implementing reforms to care.

One parent, Hazel Harwood, said that the Trust had "failed" her daughter, adding that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

Her daughter Mia was stillborn just days after the Ockenden Report was published - and in September, a Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch investigation found that had her pre-eclampsia been better managed, that outcome may have been different.

“The smallest smells - I’ll smell something and I’ll be back in that hospital room,” she said, adding that she's undergoing therapy.

“They failed my daughter. To know that my daughter died there - I just can’t go near it.

"I went there for appointments, in their triage, they should have picked things up and they didn’t.

“So I just don’t trust that hospital to care for people the way that they should.”

What was the Ockenden report?

The Okenden review was launched by then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2017 on the basis of 23 deaths at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

It went on to look at cases affecting over 1,400 families, making it one of the biggest health investigations in NHS history.

The report identified seven major reforms that needed to be made to maternity care at the trust, having found, among other things, that some members of staff showed an "unacceptable" lack of kindness, and that some midwives were unable to identify if a pregnancy was progressing badly.

In total, there were 210 recommendations made for the Trust to put into place to tackle chronic failings.

Many were labelled “immediate” and “essential” by the report’s author, Donna Ockenden - but almost a year on, ITV Central has been told that the Trust has completed little more than half.

To date, they have:

  • 110 fully implemented

  • 34 delivered, but not evidenced

  • 66 not yet delivered

The trust has agreed to pay compensation to care for Charlotte Cheshire's son, Adam

For others, the past year has seen the Trust make progress in recognising what they've suffered, although this has taken years of fighting which has taken its toll.

Charlotte Cheshire's son Adam is 11, and his family have spent most of his life learning how to cope with his physical and learning disabilities, linked to complications suffered during his birth.

The Trust has now admitted to 80% liability in his case and agreed to a compensation package providing care for Adam, for the rest of his life.

That's been a source of relief to his family, who have had to juggle caring for Adam themselves whilst also fighting to get support from the Trust which failed him.

“I feel as though I can finally stop fighting, and just be Adam’s mother,” Charlotte told ITV Central.

“On the train home from the High Court, there was a moment when I had a deep, distinctive thought pop into my head: ‘It doesn’t matter if I die now’.

“Now that may sound very very morbid, but it didn’t feel morbid to me at the moment. 

“One of my biggest fears had been not just managing his care now, for me, but what happens if I die?

"And that - having that thought at the moment, ‘it doesn’t matter if I die now’, it just felt like a release. I don’t have to worry.”

Speaking to ITV Central, a year on from the Ockenden reports publication, the chief executive of the trust has admitted that families were "failed."

“For us, the most important thing was to really thoroughly listen to the accounts that were provided by the families,” said Louise Barnett.

"It was really important that we understand what this report was saying.

"And that was absolutely critical because we needed to understand it to then face into the actions that we needed to take and to bring about the improvements."