THE tragic experiences of families who lost babies at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust are heartbreaking.
That many or most of those deaths could have been avoided is nothing short of galling.
The investigation into the trust’s maternity services, which was finally published on Wednesday, found that hundreds of babies died or were severely injured due to the poor care they received, to various woeful lapses of judgment and a fixation on natural birth.
It is unbearable there were so many avoidable deaths and brain-damaged babies over two decades.
And it is staggering alarm bells were not ringing, and the mistakes went on for so long.
When you arrive at hospital to give birth, you should be confident you will receive proper medical care and intervention if you need it.
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That means pain relief, such as an epidural, if you request it. Or a caesarean if one is required.
Having put your trust — and your life — in the hands of the hospital staff, the last thing you expect is for your baby to die through the neglect of the midwives and hospital.
But this was the experience of hundreds of families under the care of the Shrewsbury and Telford Trust.
We all put our faith in the NHS and the people who work there. We have no choice but to, and most of the time that is the right thing to do.
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The majority are fantastic. But when they are not, the consequences are horrific and devastating.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to senior midwife Donna Ockenden, who did the investigation.
She looked at almost 1,600 incidents between 2000 and 2019, and set 84 recommendations for improvement including 15 “immediate” actions for all maternity services in England.
And she had to wade through harrowing evidence. Donna said that some days she would go back to her hotel room and just cry — but dedicated five years of her life to uncovering this scandal.
Her report found serious mistakes were repeated over decades, and a failure to investigate and learn from infant deaths.
She describes a lack of transparency and honesty at the trust, with some staff frightened to even speak to the review team.
The fact that no one spoke up about mistakes that were being made is probably down to fear of reprisal. But that is a failure of the trust and the strongest of indications that the culture is poor.
These families were badly let down. The Ockenden report highlights a lack of understanding from the hospital trust that things were going wrong.
And their resolute refusal to look into why, or to change things.
NO ONE HELD TO ACCOUNT
Perhaps the most worrying part of the report is that much of the bad practice that caused the problems is STILL going on and failures in maternity care could be widespread across the country.
My perception of these big hospital trusts is that it seems everyone wants to be in charge and earn the large salaries, and yet no one is prepared to take responsibility or demand change.
We all put our faith in the NHS and the people who work there. We have no choice but to, and most of the time that is the right thing to do. The majority are fantastic. But when they are not, the consequences are horrific and devastating.
An apology has been issued to the families involved, but I wonder how anyone at the trust could think that is enough when no one has yet been held to account.
I’m still struggling with the fact they had a drive to promote natural childbirth with no medical intervention. That’s as logical as preventing people from having glasses if they can’t see.
I am sure some births can be totally natural but many can’t, which is why we have medical interventions. We no longer die of smallpox — because we developed a vaccine.
We don’t ask people to cure their heart attack naturally. So why are we encouraging women to have “natural” births at the expense of their health?
It’s incredible to me that, in this day and age, so many babies are dying in hospitals.
I am so sad and angry for these families about the needless deaths of their children, and the treatment of the parents afterwards.
I am also sorry for the extended families — all those people who have been robbed of being a brother or sister, aunt or uncle, grandparent.
All the reports in the world will not bring their hopes and dreams back — and my heart goes out to them.
GROWING PAINS OF DAVID THE DIVINE
REMEMBER that 2007 Dolce & Gabbana advert, where David Gandy wore nothing but tight white pants?
If so, you will perhaps be a little surprised to hear that British supermodel David is suffering from self-doubt about his looks.
This week he revealed: “I’m not particularly happy with the way I’m looking at the moment.
“I’m not at my fighting weight, as I call it.”
He also admitted fearing changes to his chiselled good looks as he ages, and said: “The two things that scare me is that apparently your ears and nose carry on growing.”
He has the reputation of being Britain’s most handsome man.
So I guess the fact he thinks that way just shows no one is immune to feelings of self-doubt when it comes to appearance.
A LYING VISIT
ANYONE who watches The Apprentice will know that some people think it’s OK to titivate and embellish their CV in a bid to get better jobs.
But it’s extremely alarming to read about the pilot who lied about his flying experience and faked his CV in an attempt to land a job with British Airways.
Craig Butfoy, 49, entered false details and altered entries to his logbook to get work with British Airways subsidiary BA CityFlyer between April 2016 and March 2018.
Allegedly he falsely claimed in a job application to have flown 1,610 hours as a captain.
But it’s reassuring he was discovered and jailed for a year.
THE stunning pictures of supermodel Izabel Goulart on the beach in a thong bikini this week made me realise two things.
Firstly, it must take a LOT of hard work to look as good as that.
And — secondly, even if I lie down and breath in, my stomach isn’t as flat as hers.
BRIDE & GLOOM
NOT all weddings go to plan.
But the bride who spent her wedding night behind bars, after attacking her own mother with a stiletto, must have woken up the next day bathed in regret.
Claire Goodbrand, 26, admitted assault this week after the big-day bust-up in which her new husband Eamonn Goodbrand and the best man, his brother Kieran, were also involved.
Sadly, the newlyweds are now living apart.
I don’t want to make unfair assumptions but it is perhaps fair to say that in this case, the writing was on the wall.
BOOST AUTISM STATUS
SORRY, I am a day late to the party.
But I would like to acknowledge World Autism Day, which was yesterday — and celebrated each year on April 2.
It’s great there is an international day recognised by the United Nations’ member states as a way to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of people with autism.
It highlights the fact we have really made progress when it comes to our understanding, experience and the all-round approach to neurodiversity, and autism in particular.
That being said, and although more and more people are being diagnosed as autistic, I know we still have a long way to go in creating a world that works for autistic people.
I am usually a bit sceptical about awareness days.
But there is so much stigmatisation and discrimination associated with autism that in this case I can really see how important it is.
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There is still a huge lack of understanding in general, which has a massive impact on neurodiverse individuals and their families.
So let’s all take a moment this weekend to find out more about autism and neurodiversity — and to celebrate our differences.