About 100 new cases of poor maternity care at a beleaguered hospital trust have been identified, bringing the total to 900, the government has revealed.
The scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust - the largest maternity scandal in NHS history – is already under investigation and lawyers are preparing to act on behalf of families who say they suffered.
Nadine Dorries, a health minister, told the Commons the total number of suspected cases now stood at 900. The previous known tally was around 800.
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A number of those went back 40 years, she said, adding that reviewing the hundreds of cases would take time.
A leaked internal report last year revealed by The Independent said that clinical malpractice was allowed to continue unchecked since the 1970s, with repeated failings by doctors, midwives and hospital bosses.
Dozens of babies and three mothers died, and more than 50 children also suffered permanent brain damage after being deprived of oxygen during birth, the investigation discovered.
Another 47 cases of substandard care were also uncovered.
Ms Dorries said on Wednesday the review team would be in touch in coming weeks with families involved.
“It is appropriate that while this important work [the review] is going on, we don’t influence it or comment on it,” she said.
The government was supporting midwife Donna Ockenden in her review, Ms Dorries added.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the rise in numbers was deeply shocking because the scale of potential avoidable death at Telford may be no different from that at Mid-Staffordshire, where a public inquiry absorbed huge public resources.
Ms Dorries said it needed to be concluded for the sake of families but it should not be rushed and Ms Ockenden would be supported fully.
“Anything she needs she will have to get this review successfully concluded.”
She was expecting the review to be finished by the end of the year.
Much work had already been done to make maternity safer at the trust, she said, but still more work was needed. And he objective was to ensure that the tragic cases that the Ockenden review were not repeated anywhere else.
The trust was put into special measures and rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission in 2018.
Major concerns about maternity safety led to conditions being imposed on the trust by the CQC last year.