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Extra £95m in maternity care funding after damning report detailed unnecessary deaths of babies and mothers

Written by on 25 March 2021

NHS England has announced an extra £95m in funding for maternity care after a report detailed avoidable deaths of babies and mothers.

It will be investing the money in “three overarching themes” including additional staffing, it said.

The measures are understood to include the recruitment of 1,000 midwives and 80 consultant obstetricians.

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Maternity scandal a ‘national tragedy’

There will also be “training and development programmes to support culture and leadership”.

The health service said it will be “strengthening board assurance and surveillance to identify issues earlier, thereby enabling rapid intervention”.

The move follows a report that detailed serious failings which led to the unnecessary deaths of babies and mothers.

The investigation – by independent midwife Donna Ockenden into more than 1,800 cases of poor maternity care over twenty years at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust – identified seven “immediate and essential actions” needed to improve maternity care at services across England.

For bereaved parents who have fought for change since losing babies, the news is “welcome but bittersweet”.

Kate Stanton-Davies died just six hours after she was born in Shropshire on 1 March 2009. An inquest later found her death could have been avoided.

“Her death was entirely avoidable,” her mother, Rhiannon Davies, told Sky News.

“It was just a complete catastrophic sequence of events. Over 12 long years we’ve been asking questions (and) it’s been very difficult getting the answers that we sought, but we’ve never given up on Kate.”

Rhiannon Davies, Richard Stanton and their baby Kate Image: Rhiannon Davies, Richard Stanton and their baby Kate, who died six hours after she was born

Rhiannon and Kate’s father, Richard Stanton, worked with other bereaved families in Shropshire to fight for an investigation into the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

That resulted in the review of cases by Donna Ockenden – which reported its initial findings in December – and an ongoing police investigation by West Mercia Police.

Over the years they have been contacted by families from across the country who have lost babies and who suspect that poor maternity care was to blame.

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Hospital ‘blamed’ mothers for babies’ deaths

“We know that maternity services have been failing families up and down the length and breadth of this country for some time,” Richard said.

“Hopefully with this announcement of money today, what it will illustrate is yes, absolutely this is the right thing to do, to fund maternity care properly…but the bittersweet side of it is it’s also an illustration of how underfunded maternity care has been for years in this country.”

Kate’s parents say they hope the campaigning they and other bereaved parents have done will help save lives.

“The fact is, there will be children alive in years to come…and they could have died,” Richard said.

“If that is something that we have achieved in Kate’s name then we are really humbled by that, and that is a legacy that 12 years of fighting was worth it for.”