18th May 2017
Cheshire Police has opened an investigation into the deaths of a number of babies born at The Countess of Chester Hospital between 2015 and 2016.
The Countess asked for the inquiry in a decision which they say was not taken lightly, to “enable ruling out unnatural causes of death” in regards to the neonatal services.
This has come following the published findings of an independent review into neonatal services at the Countess carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
That included a further detail case note review by an independent neonatologist which has been unable to answer all questions regarding what caused the death of a number of babies between June 2105 and June 2016.
Cheshire Police says their investigation will focus of the deaths of eight babies in that period. We understand this will lead to a further seven deaths and six non-fatal collapses to be reviewed.
Detective Chief Superintendent Nigel Wenham said: “In May 2017, The Countess of Chester Hospital Foundation Trust contacted Cheshire Constabulary regarding neonatal services at the hospital. This was in relation to a greater number of baby deaths and collapses than normally expected during the period of June 2015 and June 2016.
“The hospital also made the Constabulary aware of a number of independent reviews that they had commissioned into these deaths.
“As a result, Cheshire Constabulary has launched an investigation, which will focus on the deaths of eight babies that occurred between that period where medical practitioners have expressed concern.
“In addition the investigation will also conduct a review of a further seven baby deaths and six non-fatal collapses during the same period.
“We recognise that this investigation will have a significant impact on all of the families involved, staff and patients at the hospital and the public. Parents of the babies are being updated on the investigation and will be supported throughout the process by specially trained officers. We are committed to carrying out the investigation as quickly as possible.
“The investigation is in its very early stages. We are unable to provide any further details at this time.”
Countess of Chester Hospital Medical Director Ian Harvey said: “We are deeply sorry for the further distress and heartache this will cause. Throughout this we have never lost sight of the families left bereaved by the loss of their baby, and they will continue to be our main concern.
At every point where the hospital has been able to share information with families and the public, we have done so. Approaching the police is not something we have undertaken lightly. This is to ensure we have been completely thorough in understanding what has happened here and to get the answers we and the families so desperately want.”