Welsh morning headlines: News, Ukraine, coronavirus and sport as report finds better care may have saved 201 babies


We have put together a round-up of all the latest news, weather, and travel information for Wednesday, March 30, that will get you caught up and ready for the day as the families of babies who died or who were left seriously disabled due to catastrophic mistakes at an NHS trust on the Welsh border are to receive the final report of an independent inquiry.

A major review into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden, is due to be publish its findings on Wednesday, with implications for the whole of NHS maternity care. The BBC is reporting that the report will say around 201 babies might have survived had better maternity care been provided.

READ MORE : The huge consequences of the Welsh Government’s major Covid testing announcement

In other news, a health board in Wales has declared a major incident. Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has said its services are under “under sustained and unprecedented pressure” and has asked patients to only attend one of its hospitals in life-threatening cases.

The health board has declared a “business continuity incident” – known as a black alert – which is the highest alert level available.

A spokesperson said the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran is seeing “a record number of attendances” and that non-life-threatening patients were waiting more than 14 hours to see a doctor. Read the full statement from the board here.

Better care may have saved babies

More than 200 babies born at an NHS Trust bordering Wales died due to “repeated failures”, the BBC is reporting. An independent inquiry into the UK’s biggest maternity scandal will be published today at 10am and the BBC understands it will have damning conclusions.

It’s understood that as well as the 201 babies who might have survived with better care, dozens more suffered life changing injuries including being left severely brain damage. Mothers also died as a result of the failures in the Shropshire and Telford NHS Trust, which borders Wales and cares for many Welsh mums.

The BBC reported that the damning report, led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden found concerns over care were a factor in 131 stillbirths and 70 neonatal deaths between 2000 and 2019. A separate criminal investigation is being conducted by West Mercia Police.

Richard Stanton and Rhiannon Davies, who have campaigned for years over the poor care, lost their daughter Kate hours after her birth in March 2009. The trust noted the death but described it as a “no harm” event, although an inquest jury later ruled Kate’s death could have been avoided.

Another couple who have led the campaign for safer care are Kayleigh and Colin Griffiths, whose daughter Pippa died in 2016 from a Group B Strep infection. A year later, a coroner ruled her death could have been avoided.

Wales news headlines

Anger over police misconduct hearing being held in private

A hearing over alleged misconduct by three high-ranking police officers following accusations of a sexual offence at a retirement party will be held in private with the media and public excluded.

Acting assistant chief constable Marc Budden and detective chief superintendent Mark Warrender, both of Gwent Police, were suspended following an alleged incident at a retirement party held in Cardiff in June 2019 for former Gwent Police chief constable Julian Williams. Detective chief superintendent Warrender was suspended after an alleged sexual offence against a female officer with acting assistant chief constable Budden also suspended for alleged misconduct.

Detective chief superintendent Mark Warrender (left) and acting assistant chief constable Marc Budden
Detective chief superintendent Mark Warrender (left) and acting assistant chief constable Marc Budden

The two men along with another colleague, chief inspector Paul Staniforth, are due to face a misconduct hearing next month. The hearing will be heard behind closed doors after the media and members of the public were banned from attending following a ruling by the hearing chair after applications from Gwent Police and the three officers involved.

Teacher had suitcases full of pornography at work

A “sexist” lecturer who told a colleague he couldn’t resist red-heads had two suitcases full of porn in a college cupboard, a tribunal has heard.

Michael Drew, a senior lecturer at the Newtown Campus of Neath Port Talbot Group of Colleges, had a “voluminous” collection of pornographic films – with titles such as ‘Spring Break’ and ‘Dorm Room Fantasies’.

The suitcases were forcibly removed from campus after staff members raised concerns about Mr Drew’s allegedly inappropriate behaviour. After the suitcases were found the college’s deputy principal had to spend more than eight hours watching the explicit films to ensure they did not contain child images, which they did not.

An Education Workforce Council (EWC) hearing, on Tuesday, was told that one suitcase was full of videos, DVDS and discs, while the other contained clothing and props including “whips, chains and cuffs”. Read more here.

Today’s forecast

Rain and hill snow spreading south through the day. Here is the full forecast for Wales:

Rather cloudy with outbreaks of rain spreading steadily south through the day. The rain will turn to sleet or wet snow over the highest ground during the afternoon as a cold northeasterly wind develops. Maximum temperature 13 °C.

Outbreaks of rain and hill snow will clear southwards this evening with most places becoming dry by midnight. Isolated wintry showers may affect parts of the east towards dawn. Minimum temperature -2 °C.

Here is how the roads and rail are affected at 7am

National news headlines

Kyiv attacked despite vow

Ukraine has reportedly attacked a military weapons depot in Russia. Tuesday night saw Ukraine strike back for only the second time since war broke out on February 24, if Russian state media reports are to be believed. A missile appeared to hit a Russian military weapons depot outside Belgorod close to the Ukraine border, causing an explosion.

Witnesses said the strike had “presumably” come either “via drone or short range ballistic missile”, according to the Mirror. Video footage of the explosion was circulated on social media (below) and showed a huge explosion, with Russia claiming that at least four soldiers were injured as a result.

In other news Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky made his daily address and cast doubt over Russia’s promise to “drastically reduce military hostility” against the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv following peace talks in Istanbul.

“We should not lose vigilance,” he said. “The situation has not become easier. The scale of the challenges has not diminished. The Russian army still has significant potential to continue attacks against our state.” You can also read the latest from Ukraine in our morning briefing here.

A fundraising concert for Ukraine featuring Ed Sheeran and the country’s 2016 Eurovision winner has raised £12.2 million for the humanitarian effort in the war-torn nation.

The two-hour Concert for Ukraine was organised to raise money for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and its response to the Russian invasion.

Shop price inflation hits highest rate since September 2011

Shop price inflation has hit its highest rate since September 2011 amid warnings to consumers that the full impact of mounting costs is yet to be seen.

Annual inflation accelerated to 2.1% in March, up from 1.8% in February – the highest rate in more than a decade, according to the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index.

Food inflation jumped to 3.3% – its highest rate since March 2013 – while non-food inflation reached 1.5% in March, up from 1.3% in February and its top rate since February 2011.

Consumers have seen their fifth consecutive month of rising prices amid mounting cost pressures throughout the supply chain, including in rising wages, input costs, global commodity prices, energy and transport.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said many of these costs were beginning to be exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine but the full impact on prices was yet to be seen.

Wheat prices have risen sharply while the increase in oil prices has not only impacted the cost of domestic energy but also fertiliser and transporting goods.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Our Shop Price Index has been rising more modestly than other inflation measures as retailers were able to limit price rises on many essential goods.

“By keeping the prices of key items down and expanding value ranges, retailers are trying to support customers most affected by the cost-of-living squeeze, many of whom will face higher energy prices and national insurance contributions from 1 April.

“With overall inflation likely to rise even higher according to the Bank of England, consumers will not have an easy ride this year. The war in Ukraine, and volatility in commodity markets is likely to further dampen consumer confidence in the coming months.”

Sport headlines

Rubin Colwill strike earns Rob Page’s men a draw

Rubin Colwill struck his first international goal as Wales extended their unbeaten home record to 18 matches with a 1-1 draw against Czech Republic.

The visitors started well and took the lead at Cardiff City Stadium through captain Tomas Soucek’s driven effort. But Colwill – on his home ground – equalised just moments later after fine play from the impressive Brennan Johnson. Read the full match report here.

Wales’ Rubin Colwill celebrates scoring his side’s equalising goal

Both sides had opportunities to win it, although the spoils were ultimately shared on what was a useful workout for Rob Page’s fringe players ahead of a huge month in June where the Red Dragons bid to qualify for the Qatar World Cup in addition to playing four Nations League fixtures.

Only Wayne Hennessey kept his place from the memorable World Cup play-off semi-final win over Austria, with the goalkeeper earning his 100th cap. Chances were at a premium early on, although Johnson asked questions of the Czech Republic defence with his pace.

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