The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has pledged to “face up to mistakes” while reflecting on an inquiry into the UK’s biggest maternity scandal.

Some 201 babies and nine mothers could have – or would have – survived if the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust provided better care, stated a damning report by maternity expert Donna Ockenden.

Catastrophic failings for 20 years and inadequate investigations led to babies being stillborn, dying shortly after birth or being left severely brain damaged.

Recently the West Herts trust was told its maternity services ‘requires improvement’ in December 2021, and will use the Ockenden findings to make its own improvements.


Mitra Bakhtiari, West Herts’ director of midwifery, said while it is not complacent, the trust will take findings on board.

She said: "The biggest lesson from the report is how dangerous it is to have a blame culture where staff are scared to speak up or do not engage with patients when things have gone wrong.

“It’s easy to look at our buildings and find fault but I am pleased to reassure local people that as far as our culture in maternity is concerned, we want to face up to mistakes and learn from them. This is how lives are saved.”

The midwifery director added that by studying the findings, utilising a recent recruitment boost and plans for a new hospital building, the maternity service can reclaim its ‘good’ CQC rating.