Three mothers and dozens of babies have lost their lives at hospitals in England in a span of four decades because of major staff failings, according to a leaked internal report processed by The Independent on Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) on Wednesday.
For 40 years, clinical malpractice was left to run unchecked at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, leading to the deaths of three mothers and at least 42 babies between 1979 and 2017. Dozens of babies were stillborn while others died shortly after birth.
The report identifies hundreds of cases of clinical errors and repeated failings by doctors, midwives and hospital executives, and cites a lack of honesty and transparency.
Experts say this could become the biggest maternity scandal in the history of Britain’s NHS.
The report also revealed an investigation ordered by the U.K. government in 2017 that suggests more than 50 children suffered permanent brain damage after being deprived of oxygen during birth.
With 600 cases currently being examined and hundreds still yet to be looked at, the numbers are expected to grow as the investigation continues.
“On behalf of the trust, I apologize unreservedly to the families who have been affected,” Paula Clark, the interim chief executive of the NHS Trust, was quoted as saying.
“I would like to reassure all families using our maternity services that we have not been waiting for Donna Ockenden’s final report before working to improve our services. A lot has already been done to address the issues raised by previous cases,” Clark said, referring to maternity expert Donna Ockenden, who has been carrying out the inquiry.