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Whistleblower reveals 'culture of fear' stopped hospital staff exposing baby deaths

A whistleblower who worked at a hospital trust where hundreds of babies died or were left brain-damaged says there was "a climate of fear" among staff who tried to report concerns.

Bernie Bentick was a consultant obstetrician at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust for almost 30 years.

"In Shrewsbury and Telford there was a climate of fear where staff felt unable to speak up because of risk of victimisation," Mr Bentick said.

"Clearly, when a baby or a mother dies, it's extremely traumatic for everybody concerned.

"Sadly, the mechanisms for trying to prevent recurrence weren't sufficient for a number of factors.

"Resources and the institutionalised bullying and blame culture was a large part of that."

More than 1,800 cases of potentially avoidable harm have been reviewed by the inquiry. Most occurred between 2000 and 2019.

Mr Bentick worked at the Trust until 2020. He said from 2009 onwards, he was raising concerns with managers.

"I believe there were significant issues which promoted risk because of principally understaffing and the culture," he said.

He also accuses hospital bosses of prioritising activity - the number of patients seen and procedures performed - over patient safety.

"I believe that the senior management were mostly concerned with activity rather than safety - and until safety is on a par with clinical activity, I don’t see how the situation is going to be resolved," he said.

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Source: Sky News, 27 March 2022


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