'How many more children must die?': Parents' fury after Coroner finds neglect caused newborn's death

Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust sign
The Princess Royal Hospital, Telford

A newborn baby girl died as result of neglect by staff at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust - despite an independent report ordering urgent improvements being published four months beforehand.

Senior Coroner John Ellery today published his findings following an inquest into Poppy Russell, who was born and then died at the Princess Royal in Telford on April 11th, 2021.

He found that she died due to asphyxiation, contributed to by neglect.

He said she would have survived had her abnormal heartbeat been spotted and had she been delivered sooner. 

Her parents, Neil and Kathryn, have critcised what they called "hideous and systemic failures."

"Whilst we welcome the [Coroner’s] decision, this is a staging post along the way for us to gain justice for the death of our daughter, and add our weight and support those who lost children before us,” they said in a statement.

"We will not stop until those individuals and those at the highest level are held to account for their hideous and systemic failures, and continued strategy of covering up neonatal death."

They also called on the Heath Secretary, Steve Barclay, to "make maternity care a priority".

"There must be national scrutiny and changes. How many more children must die? How many more families have to suffer like ours before critical changes are made?" They added.

The trust runs the Princess Royal in Telford Credit: ITV News Central

Poppy’s death came four months after the interim Ockenden Report was published in December 2020, listing urgent and immediate improvements needed in maternity care at the Trust.

During the following months, and during the inquest, her parents say the Trust tried to "blame" them for what happened by refusing to allow foetal heartbeat monitoring, which they denied, and the Coroner accepted this.

In response, the director of nursing at the Trust, Hayley Flavell, said: “We offer our deepest condolences to Mr and Mrs Russell for the loss of their daughter, Poppy. We recognise there were failings in the care we provided and we are truly sorry.

"The death of any baby is a tragedy, and when this happens we take urgent and appropriate action, working with external organisations as well as colleagues, to understand how we might have provided better care. We take any learnings, as individuals and as a service, and embed them within our practice.

"We have made clear improvements to our maternity services since 2021, with specific changes relating to foetal monitoring and record-keeping. There is further to go, but we remain committed to constant improvement, openness and transparency, and are working with women and families to provide the best and safest care possible."

It comes as families involved in the Ockenden Review, which began looking at 23 cases and ended reviewing 1,562 incidents, have called upon the Health Secretary to hold a national public inquiry into maternity care in the UK.

ITV News Central has contacted the Department for Health and Social Care for comment.