A health trust at the centre of a maternity scandal was praised by watchdogs for performing a low number of caesareans.
The Shrewsbury and Telford hospital group is the subject of a major review over concerns that dozens of babies and mothers died needlessly.
Yesterday the Mail revealed that up to 60 possible cases of poor maternity care have been identified at the trust since 1998, three times more than first thought.
The NHS regulator has since confirmed it is planning to widen its review to consider all of the additional cases.
The Shrewsbury and Telford hospital group (pictured) is the subject of a major review over concerns that dozens of babies and mothers died needlessly
But documents reveal that the trust was praised by two official bodies for having a low caesarean section rate and for encouraging women to have natural births.
Both the Care Quality Commission and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists singled out the low number of surgical births as one of the trust’s strengths.
Several families claim their babies died because midwives were intent on them being born naturally, rather than via caesarean or through the use of forceps.
Published last August, the CQC’s report, states: ‘The trust was achieving higher than average vaginal birth rates. The caesarean rates were below (better than) the trust and national targets.’
It rates the trust’s main maternity department – the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford – as ‘good’, in terms of effectiveness, in part because of the low numbers.
A second report published last month by the royal college highlighted the trust’s low caesarean section rates as a strength.
he Princess Royal Hospital Telford had its maternity department rated as ‘good’, in terms of effectiveness, in part because of the low numbers
The document states that only 14 per cent of women who had their first baby at the trust had a caesarean section, compared with a national average of 22 per cent.
Just 19 per cent of women having their second, third or fourth babies had caesareans where the national figure is just under 22 per cent.
Experts believe the drive for natural childbirth may have contributed to many of the deaths and incidents of poor care.
Even the trust’s website encourages natural labours, stating: ‘We promote normality in childbirth.’
The failings at the trust are feared to be worse than those at the Morecambe Bay hospital trust in Cumbria, where 16 babies and three mothers died.
Yesterday the health watchdog, NHS Improvement, said