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A scandal that shames the NHS

Young mothers: victims of “natural birth” dogma. Guido Mieth/Getty

An investigation into “dreadful and unforgivable” goings on at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust between 2000 and 2019 has found that 300 newborn babies “died or were left brain damaged”, and 12 mothers died in labour, says Melanie Phillips in The Times. Mothers were denied caesarean sections “even when they pleaded for them”, and doctors used “excessive force” to deliver babies, leaving many with “fractured skulls and broken bones”. The reason for this shocking scandal? “An obsession with natural birth” – part of the wider movement that believes “everything natural or organic is good” and medical intervention is a “male, technological intrusion into a female rite of passage”.

Evidence of these gross failings was either covered up or dismissed as “scaremongering”, and whistleblowers who knew the truth were “victimised” and threatened. In fact, Shrewsbury was once praised for having the lowest caesarean rate in the country, despite having a mortality rate 10% higher than comparable hospitals. Denial is in the health service’s DNA, from the “toadying chain of command” to the politicians who insist on the NHS mythology that it’s the “most caring, compassionate and effective health provider in the world”. With its natural childbirth obsession, the NHS has not only “junked clinical understanding”, but actively endangered babies and mothers in its care. This is yet another glaring example of the “lethal gap” between the sentimental glorification of “our NHS” and the deadly reality.