The current stream of news highlighting serious issues in maternity services in England and Wales is a real worry for those planning to start, or grow, their family.
What began as a seemingly isolated issue when the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal was exposed in 2015, has since transpired to be a more widespread and complex problem.
What happened in south Wales?
The maternity care, delivered at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, in Llantrisant, and the Prince Charles Hospital, in Merthyr Tydfil, were first exposed as unsafe by a consultant midwife in late 2018.
An independent review, conducted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives, identified that serious incidents were not being properly recorded amidst a catalogue of other failings leading to avoidable stillbirths and catastrophic birth injuries.
The maternity units run by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board were placed into special measures in May 2019.
This was a significant escalation and signalled the scale of the problem as the Welsh Government triggered its highest level of intervention.
It was reported that potentially preventable incidents dated as far back as 2010. The senior leadership team continued to demonstrate little accountability.
The chief executive, who had led the health board’s maternity services since 2011, resigned shortly after the damning report.
Families given a voice
The families who had suffered the loss of their baby, or faced a life of caring for a child with wide ranging, and complex needs, now had a voice.
Repeated accounts were heard of families’ concerns being ignored by staff at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital. It was revealed that serious incident reports were not always carried out or were conducted poorly. Stories were heard of mothers being treated with little compassion or care.
The significant harm caused to these families, and their children, was painfully evident.
After several years of inadequate medical care, affected families were being listened to, and their substantial concerns taken seriously.
How many families have been affected?
It is not clear how many families have been affected in total by either the potentially preventable death of their baby, or catastrophic injuries leading to complicated lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy.
It was reported earlier this year that the ongoing review was considering around 160 cases. We believe that there are many more families who have been affected by avoidable incidents at these hospitals.
The team of birth injury specialists at Diane Rostron are representing dozens of families following what we believe were preventable stillbirths, permanent birth injuries and neonatal deaths.
We have secured £multi-million compensation for children suffering with catastrophic injuries that occurred before, during or just after their birth while under the care of these hospitals.
We believe that there may be many more families who are yet to receive the justice that they deserve and the compensation that their child needs.
A catastrophic birth injury means that a child will have extensive, and lifelong, complex care needs. They are entitled to significant compensation to meet their needs if it is believed, and proved, it could have been avoided.
The Independent Maternity Services Oversight Panel (IMSOP) reported its first findings earlier this year which looked at incidents where mothers were injured while under the care of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital.
It found that in two thirds of the cases, a different outcome would have been achieved had better medical care been provided.
The review considered incidents where the mother had been admitted into intensive care. The first of three reviews echoed failings including:
- Not listening to mothers
- Poor leadership
- Failing to recognise and escalate serious circumstances
- Treatment that fell below expected standards leading to poor outcomes
The panel is due to report on two further reviews looking at stillbirths and neonatal mortality and morbidity.
Families should not suffer in silence
It is essential for all maternity investigations in hospitals, across England and Wales, to be thorough and transparent.
Lessons must be learned from these catastrophic medical errors to prevent more families from suffering unnecessarily.
Taking legal action
Compensation is set aside for avoidable birth injuries. The families affected by maternity issues in Merthyr Tydfil, Llantrisant or Bridgend have a right to pursue justice.
For children who are living with catastrophic injuries such as brain damage following preventable errors including: failing to listen to a mother’s concerns; a failure to detect and respond to signs the baby is in distress; and failing to intervene in a timely manner, compensation will help to pay for the care, equipment, and adaptations they need.
The law places the responsibility on the affected family to prove that the birth injury could have been prevented had adequate medical care been provided.
Families who have suffered in silence deserve justice and the ability to meet their child’s extensive needs.
Our birth injury experts understand
Diane Rostron and her team specialise in birth injuries compensation. This complex area of law is contentious and the maternity services responsible for these alleged incidents defend any claims strongly.
Our team offers extensive expertise gained over a 25+ year period and an enviable track record of settling £multi-million claims – even when families have been let down by previous solicitors who simply could not uncover the evidence needed to secure compensation.
We have acted against the Cwm Taf maternity units in south Wales for nearly 10 years representing families who have been significantly let down, ignored, and hurt.
We have won cases where the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Our empathetic solicitors work with highly experienced specialist independent medical experts and barristers. We find every piece of evidence required to prove what families have known all along – that their baby should not have been injured.
We will talk you through the legal process of making a birth injury claim against the Cwm Taf health board’s maternity services. We will stand by your side every step of the way.
We are here to listen, and to help.