The NHS is to spend almost £100 million to improve safety in maternity services across England following the care scandal at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust.
Senior bosses at NHS England are expected to approve plans today to spend £95 million on boosting the numbers of midwives and doctors in hospitals, and increasing training for staff and enhancing culture on maternity units.
The decision at the NHS England board is a response to the first report into the scandal at the Shrewsbury trust where dozens of babies and mothers died as a result of persistent poor care over many years.
It’s thought the money could help recruit 1,000 more midwives across England and 80 more consultant obstetricians.
The scale of deaths and brain damaged babies at the trust, first revealed by The Independent in 2019, is the largest maternity scandal in the history of the NHS and has prompted widespread concerns over the safety of maternity services across the country.
An inquiry, led by midwife Donna Ockenden, is examining more than 1,860 cases and her first report, published in December, revealed problems dating back decades. The report found some women were medicated and forced to undergo traumatic deliveries – leaving babies with fractured skulls and broken bones – because of a culture of trying to avoid deliveries by caesarean section.
The report said 13 women died giving birth at the trust between 2000 and 2019. The Shrewsbury and Telford Trust has been rated inadequate by the CQC and is facing a separate police investigation into the maternity failings.
A report to a meeting of NHS England’s board in response to the Ockenden report said: “As a first step, we are also investing £95m in the three overarching themes that have been identified; workforce numbers, training and development programmes to support culture and leadership, and strengthening board assurance and surveillance to identify issues earlier, thereby enabling rapid intervention.
“In 2021-22 we are investing £95m nationally, with follow-on funding subject to decisions in future years.”