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Cwm Taf scandal: Shadow Health Minister adds support to calls for a police investigation

Shown on BBC Wales yesterday (January 27) evening, the investigation The Baby Scandal – about maternity services at scandal-hit Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board – included harrowing interviews with bereaved parents or those of children left adversely affected by the care given.

Included in those interviewed were Sarah and Jonathan Handy. Their baby, Jennifer, was born prematurely at Cwm Taf, and later died due to failings at the maternity unit in 2017.

Mr and Mrs Handy feel that the police should be called in to conduct a criminal investigation into the health board, and Angela Burns AM/AC, Shadow Health Minister, has added her support to this call.

She said:

“The tragic story of Jennifer and her mother’s care is heartbreaking, and few would not empathise with them.

“The inquest into baby Jennifer’s death and the care her mother received concluded in 2019, but their case is just one of 140 being reviewed to determine if mothers and babies were harmed by the maternity care they received at units run by Cwm Taf Morgannwg at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, and the Royal Glamorgan Hospital at Llantrisant.”

Mr and Mrs Handy now want to know if other, systemic failings also played a part of what has been described as the biggest scandal to hit NHS Wales since devolution.

Mrs Burns added:

The report on maternity services at Cwm Taf Morgannwg was clear, factual, and on the button when dealing with families suffering loss. The number of apologies given, ‘lessons learnt’, and promises made are not reassuring as the leaked Health Inspectorate Wales report attests.

The failure of Alison Williams – the former chair of Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board – to share the independent midwives’ report with the board or Welsh Government is a gross dereliction of duty, and the current chair isn't covered in glory either.

“There should be a full police investigation to reassure families and staff and the rest of us.”

Mrs Burns continued:

“Cwm Taf was placed into special measures last year, but the investigation into the scandal at the health board is likely to go back at least a decade.

“Week in, week out, I and my Welsh Conservative colleagues in the Welsh Parliament receive requests for assistance from our constituents about the care they have received.

“I've met with some families who lost their babies and all their stories are harrowing. The longer they wait for answers the harder it is for them to come to terms with their loss.

“Month after month, we hear the Minster for Health, and the First Minister, excusing the performance of the health boards – and to no end.

“It’s clear that the frontline staff at these hospitals are doing their utmost, but the same cannot be said of the Minister for Health.

“The investigation into this scandal must be far-reaching and unafraid to highlight the failings uncovered even if they go right to the top.”

To watch the BBC Wales investigation, click here.