Scandal-hit health trust declares critical incident and cancels non-urgent operations due to Covid staff absences and high demand that has seen ambulances queue for hours

  • Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust is continuing to see high levels of Covid
  • They added extended hospital bed waiting times have caused critical incident
  • The Trust is already battling terrible maternity care scandal that rocked UK units

A scandal-hit health trust has declared a critical incident due to ‘continued and unprecedented pressure’ on its services and ‘catastrophic delays’ which has seen ambulances left queuing for hours.

In a statement, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust which covers Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin’s health and care systems said that it is continuing to see ‘significant’ levels of Covid-19 at its hospitals combined with high numbers of patients arriving for other conditions.

The Trust added that it is experiencing extended hospital bed waiting times, staff absences due to Covid-19, and difficulties in discharging patients due to a lack of capacity across its care sector.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust is already battling to get out of hot water since the terrible maternity care scandal that has rocked maternity units nationwide.

Britain’s biggest maternity scandal revealed 201 babies and nine mothers died needlessly during a two-decade era of appalling care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

Scandal-hit health trust Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust has declared a critical incident due to ‘continued and unprecedented pressure’ on its services and ‘catastrophic delays’ which has seen ambulances left queuing for hours. Pictured, one of its hospitals, the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

Mothers were found to be frequently blamed by staff for the care they received and in some cases even their own deaths. Some women were forced to have vaginal births when they should have been offered a caesarean, as part of an obsession with ‘normal births’.

Concerns were first raised in 2009 when Kate Stanton-Davies died six hours after her birth. 

A report found her death was avoidable and criticised two midwives for failing to realise the birth was high risk and for ignoring family concerns. 

Dozens of other parents then came forward fearing that their babies’ deaths could have been avoided. They alleged their children lost their lives or were left with lifelong brain injuries as a result of poor care at the NHS trust.

An independent review led by Donna Ockenden was launched by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt in April 2017 to look into 23 cases. But the number has risen dramatically to 1,250 – some as recent as last year. 

It has been described as one of the NHS’s worst care scandals.

The Trust runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, Oswestry Maternity Unit, and Wrekin Community Clinic, Euston House, Telford, in Shropshire, West Midlands.

As a result of the recent critical incident declared at the Trust, some non-urgent operations will be postponed, where patients require a stay in hospital, to prioritise patients ‘with the most urgent clinical need’. The Trust said that it regretted taking these steps.

‘We regret that it has been necessary to take this step, but it is important that we focus on patients needing urgent and emergency care as a priority’, the statement said.

‘If you are not contacted directly about an operation being postponed, please continue to attend your appointment as usual.

‘This critical incident is an indication of the serious pressure the system is facing. We are working extremely hard to ensure people are kept safe but there are ways that you can help.

‘Our teams are continuing to work exceptionally hard, and we would like to reassure the public that despite the challenges faced, our services remain open for anyone who needs them.’

Ambulance campaigners from Shropshire Needs Ambulances and Defend Our NHS released a statement last week, calling for the government to pile more cash into social care to help speed up the discharging of hospital patients.

They argue that this will be the way to stop the issue of ‘catastrophic delays’ for ambulances waiting outside hospitals. 

Chair of Defend Our NHS, Gill George, said: ‘The problem is “flow”, isn’t it? A&E is full because patients can’t be moved into beds, ambulances queue up outside because A&E can’t admit patients, and of course those ambulances are not available to respond to emergencies.

The Trust added that it is experiencing extended hospital bed waiting times, staff absences due to Covid-19, and difficulties in discharging patients due to a lack of capacity across its care sector. Pictured, the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

‘The nearest thing we’ve got to a quick fix, then, is investment in social care to support hospital discharge.

‘If we get patients out of hospital when they’re ready, we can start to get movement through the system and ambulances back on the road and answering emergency calls.

‘There’s a growing understanding nationally that this is the way to go.

‘Of course this wouldn’t sort all the other problems we’ve got in the NHS in Shropshire, the lack of funding, the staff shortages, not having enough beds. We’d like to see a CQC inquiry into those things and some long-term solutions.

‘But – and this is important – we urgently need government funding put into social care to get patients discharged from hospital safely.’

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