A Shropshire couple say they have abandoned plans to expand their family after suffering the “traumatic” birth of their son at one of the Shropshire hospitals under investigation as part of a widespread maternity scandal.Lucy and Niell Styles believe that not only could their son Archie’s distressing birth at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital have been avoided but, with proper care, mother and baby may have not developed sepsis – a condition they only found out they had been treated for when lawyers acting for the couple received hospital records.
The couple, who live in Shrewsbury, are investigating a case of clinical negligence against the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust through law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, which is also dealing with inquiries from other families affected.
A leaked interim report into the maternity investigation being carried out by Donna Ockenden has revealed a longstanding “toxic” culture at the Shropshire hospitals. More than 600 cases are now believed to be under the scope of the inquiry including the deaths of at least 42 babies and three mothers, 50 babies who suffered brain damage and more than 47 cases of sub standard care.
Tim Gray, Partner and specialist Medical Negligence lawyer at FBC Manby Bowdler, said: “We are pleased that such an extensive investigation is on-going but the sheer number of cases being investigated, including experiences like the Styles’, is concerning. However, we hope that the independent review and report will result in changes at the Trust and that this situation never happens again.”
Lucy originally went to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in the early stages of labour on March 2 2017 and was sent home. When she returned the next day, a lack of available ambulances meant Niell had to drive his wife to the Telford Hospital to deliver their baby on the consultant led unit, despite Lucy collapsing outside.
She explained: “When we got to Telford, we were left in a closed ward with very little attention. My labour didn’t progress naturally but there was a distinct lack of care or interest from the midwives, including the one overseeing my labour who openly admitted being hungover when she arrived on shift.
“During my active labour, my heart rate was rising and dropping and I had a very high temperature, which I now understand indicated a possible infection but nothing was done. Eventually a doctor intervened and performed an emergency delivery using forceps.”
Lucy believes that if the standard of care had been better, the ordeal of Archie’s birth and subsequent sepsis could have been avoided.
“The standard of care fell so far below what you would expect it was farcical,” she said. “We didn’t even know Archie and I had had sepsis until recently. There was no communication and a complete lack of basic care and decency. We are so lucky to have Archie and can only hope that this investigation leads to major improvements at both hospitals.”
The couple, who had always planned to have a sibling for Archie, have now decided not to have another child as they don’t want to undergo a similar experience.
Niell said: “What we went through was traumatic. We tried to address the issues around Archie’s birth through the trust’s Patient Advice Liaison Service but didn’t feel that they took it seriously at all or addressed the issues properly.
“We don’t want any other families to go through what we did and want to see a change in the culture that appears to exist at the trust.”
Tim Gray added: “If anyone has had a baby in recent years at Telford or Shrewsbury and they have concerns over their treatment, or if their babies suffered any injuries resulting from the management of the pregnancy or birth, they should seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.”