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Midwife at scandal-hit Shrewsbury elected president of Royal College

Midwife at scandal-hit Shrewsbury elected president of Royal College
New Royal college president says mistakes in care at Shrewsbury trust ‘must never be repeated’

Members of the Royal College of Midwives have elected a former midwife from the scandal-hit Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust as their new president.

Rebecca Davies recently retired from her role as a labour ward co-ordinator at the Midlands trust after a 30 year career in the NHS.

The Shrewsbury trust was at the centre of the worst maternity care scandal in NHS history and is also facing a police investigation and an independent inquiry into almost 1,900 cases of poor maternity care.

Following her election, the RCM said she was aiming to bring “honesty, integrity, experience and passion” to her new role.

The presidency is a ceremonial role who represents the college at national and international events and social occasions and works alongside the College’s chief executive Gill Walton.

Rebecca Davies worked as a trade union rep for the troubled trust and said following the result that midwifery needed leadership and support to bring about a “positive change” in maternity practice and culture to improve safety.

Hun sa: “I will never fail to acknowledge the tragic events that happened in my trust, and I pay tribute to the way in which the families who have been affected by them have conducted themselves, with strength and dignity. We owe it to them to ensure that the mistakes made are never repeated and lessons are learned.”

The Independent revealed the full scale of poor care at the Shrewsbury trust in 2019 with a leaked report describing the deaths of 42 babies and three mothers as well as 50 children left with permanent brain damage.

The first report by the inquiry, led by Donna Ockenden in December last year, described how mother were forced to undergo traumatic births, with babies’ skulls fractured and bones broken because of a culture at the unit to avoid caesarean births.

The new president of the Royal College of Midwives said learning from past errors was “fundamental” to the profession’s growth adding: “I want that to be a key element of my presidency.”

Hun sa: “It’s been a particularly tough 16 months for maternity services battling with Covid-19. Many midwives and [midwifery support workers] have quietly stepped up with dignity and shown amazing resilience and commitment, often spending long periods away from their own families. I hope to support more members in their workplaces to improve their health and wellbeing.”

The Royal College of Midwives has accepted the findings of the Ockenden inquiry report and committed to improving safety in the NHS. It has warned the country is short of more than 2,000 midwives.

NHS England has committed £96 million to improve maternity services in the NHS including dedicated funding for safety training of doctors and midwives.

The Care Quality Commission has said it is concerned about maternity safety and warned two fifths of maternity units need to improve their performance on safety.