Shropshire baby deaths: NHS trust was paid £1m for good care
An NHS trust at the centre of England's largest inquiry into baby deaths was paid almost £1m for providing good maternity care, the BBC has learned.
Under the Maternity Incentive Scheme run by NHS Resolution, which aims to improve maternity care, trusts must certify they meet 10 safety standards.
The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust did so and received £953,391.
But weeks after the payment was made, inspectors rated the trust's maternity care as inadequate.
NHS Resolution said it was "unable to comment on specific trust cases".
The trust said evidence of its progress against the maternity safety actions had been shared with committees before being submitted to its board.
The care of mothers and babies at the Shrewsbury and Telford Trust (SaTH) has been under the spotlight since April 2017 when the BBC revealed a number of preventable deaths at the trust.
Hundreds of families have alleged the trust provided them with poor maternity care.
An interim report into what has become the largest inquiry into maternity care in the history of the NHS, leaked last month, found a toxic culture had contributed to the avoidable deaths of babies and mothers as well as dozens of instances of significant harm.
Rhiannon Davies, whose family was among the first to push for the independent inquiry after the death of her baby daughter Kate in 2009, said the trust should "pay the money back".
"They self-certified that they met the 10 standards, the board signed it off and they received no scrutiny, it is more lies," she said.
"It is another perfect, pure example of SaTh creating their own narrative.
"I want to know what they spent the money on."
In summer 2018, NHS Resolution, the legal arm of NHS trusts in England, launched a scheme aimed at improving maternity care and reducing the cost of errors.
Trusts were required to assess whether they had met 10 separate maternity safety actions, including reducing errors, workforce development and acting on the concerns of patients.
To qualify for an incentive payment, the board of a trust had to certify that they met all the standards. NHS Resolution did not ensure each trust had met its requirements.
Of the 132 trusts that participated in the scheme, 75 certified that they had scored 10 out of 10 and became eligible to receive a full refund of their own contribution as well as a portion of the money paid by those trusts that had not scored a perfect 10.
The money was paid to the Shrewsbury and Telford trust last September, while inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) were assessing the trust.
The CQC report, published in November, rated the trust, including its maternity services, as inadequate.
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Inspectors were forced to take enforcement action to ensure care was immediately improved.
While the trust received almost £1m for providing good maternity care, it has emerged it has paid out almost £50m for maternity errors since 2006.
A Freedom of Information request to NHS Resolution showed 82 claims for damages against the trust had been successful since 2006/7, costing the NHS £47,568,755.
The largest single category was cerebral palsy. Nine babies were left with the condition as a result of medical errors, forcing the trust to pay out more than £25m.
In a statement, the trust said: "Evidence of the trust's progress against the 10 safety actions was shared with committees including the Women and Children's Care Group Board and the Quality and Safety Assurance Committee, before being submitted to the trust board.
"The content of the report was also shared with the trust's commissioners."