Women and babies remain at risk of unsafe NHS care, experts warn
Exclusive: Health leaders say midwife shortage means they cannot meet recommendations in review into Shropshire trust failures
The Ockenden review of Shrewsbury and Telford hospital NHS trust will publish its final findings on Wednesday. Photograph: Jacob King/PA
Andrew Gregory Health editor
Tue 29 Mar 2022 18.55 BST
“A shortage of more than 2,000 midwives means women and babies will remain at risk of unsafe care in the NHS despite an inquiry into the biggest maternity scandal in its history, health leaders have warned.
The inquiry, which has examined more than 1,800 cases over two decades, is expected to conclude that hundreds of babies died or were seriously disabled because of mistakes at the NHS trust, and call for changes.
But NHS and midwifery officials said they fear a growing shortage of NHS maternity staff means trusts may be unable to meet new standards set out in the report.
“I am deeply worried when senior staff are saying they cannot meet the recommendations in the Ockenden review which are vital to ensuring women and babies get the safest possible maternity care,” said Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM)……
Experts said the shortage was caused by the NHS struggling to attract new midwives while losing existing staff, who felt overworked and fed up at being spread too thinly across maternity wards…..
But Walton expressed concern that with the shortage of midwives, the recruitment and retention crisis would not be solved overnight. “We have midwives from the top down and the bottom up telling us how bad the situation is,” she said. “Obviously we welcome additional funding but there are too many questions about how it will be used to recruit and, just as importantly, retain the staff we need. The government needs to pull its head out of the sand and address this urgently.”………
.Tim Annett, a medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Sadly, we continue to hear incredibly worrying first-hand accounts from families with concerns about their maternity care, not just at Shrewsbury and Telford, but other trusts”.