'I'm not living, I'm just existing' The Cwm Taf mothers still searching for answers three years after maternity scandal

  • Watch the report by Health Correspondent James Crichton-Smith

Mothers affected by maternity failings under Cwm Taf health board have said they have not been given the answers they need, three years after the scandal was made public.

Shocking failures were uncovered in 2018 which highlighted substandard care and inadequate reporting of incidents at two of the health board's hospitals - The Royal Glamorgan in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.

In the wake of an external review, maternity services were placed into special measures after serious failings were identified.

Midwives were described as being under "extreme pressure" and were working due to a "longstanding shortfall in staffing". They were repeatedly described as being at "breaking point".

Behind the revelations were women and babies who had traumatic experiences of either losing babies and suffering serious injuries.

Jessica's baby daughter Macie died nineteen days after she gave birth

One of those was Jessica Western, who lost her baby daughter Macie at 19 days old after giving birth at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

"We're three years on and we're still living in this nightmare of not knowing. That plays on my mind so much that we don't know and when people say 'How did she pass?' I have to say I don't know and to me, that's the main thing people ask... and to have no answers is awful."

Jess has two other daughters, Alba and Mia.

"My four-year-old she asks every day if she can go and see her, and then to explain to her that we can't go and see her because she's not here, it's really hard.

"A four-year-old shouldn't even be living through this just as much as I shouldn't.

"In the way that it happened, she should really be here with us or if not, we should have answers as to why she's not here."

Jaime suffered life-changing injuries whilst giving birth

Jaime Griffiths suffered life changing injuries whilst giving birth to her daughter Prince Charles Hospital. Emergency surgery she had during birth means she will have to have a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

"I'm trying to be a fantastic mam to my little girl but I can't experience any of the joys", she said.

"I can't go rollerskating, iceskating, any of the fun things. I'm always filming, taking photos, stood there afraid I'm going to injure myself. So, in a way, I felt like I've let my daughter down because they've taken that aspect away from me."

"They [the health board] see me as a number, just as a case. No-one has ever rang me or asked how I am. They know what's gone on but they haven't cared and that's what most people are angry about - they see us as a case, not as a human being, and they have destroyed my life so, it hurts. It's heartbreaking."

There are also those children that survived birth who now live with permanent disabilities.

Helen, not her real name, agreed to speak to Wales This Week on the condition of anonymity.

"It's the years of not meeting milestones. It brings with it, when you know it was completely avoidable, it's the years of an unfolding grief because as much as you're incredibly blessed to have them, it's the kind of grief you can't talk about with other parents because they've never experienced that."

A review about the care and treatment of babies is due out later this year

A report published in January found different treatment or care may have avoided trauma suffered by new mothers and their babies at two of the health board's hospitals.

A further report about the care of babies, including stillbirths and neonatal deaths, is expected later on in the year.

Wales This Week asked the health board to respond to the points raised by the mothers but said it would not be able to comment on specific cases.

In an interview with Wales This Week, the health board's chief executive Paul Mears said, "We are very conscious of the fact we are dealing with very very sensitive situations with every family we're working with."

"We have a process working with the Independent Oversight Panel who are reviewing all of the cases back a number of years and we are working individually with each of those families to make sure that process is handled as sensitively as possible."

"And that they are involved as much as they want to be - both in terms of how the review is conducted but also once the findings are brought out... to make sure they understand the findings, and they feel we are very much listening to their concerns, and taking on board their questions and making sure they get the answers they rightly deserve."

You can see more on this story on Wales This Week on ITV Cymru Wales at 7:30pm.