A woman whose baby daughter died in the 1990s at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital says she is only now able to tell her story of negligence and pain, following the exposure of a scandal late last year at the Shrewsbury and Telford Health Trust.

Ann Roberts, 56, who lives in Llanfyllin, was six months pregnant with her third child when she was rushed into hospital with severe abdominal pain that left her unable to sit, stand or even, at times, lay down.

When she was admitted, she says a junior doctor suggested three early diagnosis, including appendicitis, but says she was left in 'unimaginable pain' by nurses who refused to treat her beyond what she had received.

She was left to take a bath on her own, with the stomach pain worse than ever, and Ann insists she felt the way she was treated by the nurses left her too scared to ask for help, and refused to allow her family to complain on her behalf in case the treatment got worse.

When she was getting out of the bath that she felt a 'pop' and that her condition worsened, creating a new nightmare for Ann.

"It was a little bit like wind but I did feel something pop," she said.

"When I was trying to get dressed, I was whimpering. My nerves were shot, and I didn’t know who to trust.

"I went and told them that I had this feeling of the pop, but they said it might be trapped wind. It did get a bit easier and then I thought it might be wind and I drank some peppermint tea.

"But in a short space of time it was back. I was hoping to go home and get away from the place but as I was thinking that, oh my gosh – it came back horrendously.

"No-one was helping me, so I was getting upset, but they wanted me to keep moving. They didn’t say why, but they were, nastily, saying that they had lots of women like me.

"The lack of consultancy meant that pain wasn't diagnosed, but it got worse. The pain was so bad and there was a nurse who came along who looked quite kind, but she said 'I’m this side and you’re that side of the ward and I can’t help you'.

"I was hoping that she would’ve gone and got someone."

Eventually, Ann was seen by another doctor who carried out a test that left her in extraordinary pain.

She said: "A doctor eventually came to me and said 'I’m going to have to press into your tummy and quickly let go' and I shook my head.

"The nurse held my hand, he pressed in and then he let go really fast. I can’t put into words how bad it was but I thought at least they’re going to do something about it now but then I didn’t see anyone for ages.

"Eventually the nurse came back, and gave me something for the pain but that only made me really sleepy so I was suffering in silence.

"I don’t understand why they didn’t do something then."

Ann's appendix eventually burst, but she says that, after she eventually had surgery which required the surgeon to clean around the baby, that she was told she had been in labour all that time.

Having sent her husband Toni home, the hospital soon took Ann into surgery and her daughter Nicole was born, three months premature.

Ann continued: "They took me down to theatre but I was saying please get my husband.

"A nurse told me not to get up as they didn’t want to lose me and the baby, and all of a sudden I got frightened because I had only been thinking of the baby.

"They took her over to the corner and I thought she was going to die – I was screaming. I think they tried to get her ventilated but she screamed so loud that they all shot back. A real piercing scream and the doctor said she had a temper.

"I didn’t really see her then as they took her to the neo-natal ward. They put me on a drip and some morphine because I wasn’t so well."

Nicole survived her first crucial 24 hours, with Ann and her family having her baptised, and it was the first time she had experienced any hope in her situation.

But devastating news soon came when she was told that Nicole was not going to make it.

She added: "They asked if I would like to come and hold her but I couldn’t do it. I said if I have to hold her and watch her die then I should go myself because I let her down.

"It’s been 24 years and I feel the pain is so raw."

Ann says her mental health has been destroyed by her experience, and it was compounded months later when she said they received a visit from a doctor who treated her, who had terrible news.

She also believes her medical notes were changed to show she did not rebound on the finger test, which would have shown she needed emergency help.

She said: "He said that Nicole was strong and if this hadn’t have happened, she would have been a healthy baby, and that it was a shame that there had been an accident at the unit.

"I asked what accident and he said they didn’t have a qualified neo-natal nurse that night and they were tending to her, accidentally knocking her ventilation tube out and collapsed her lung.

"She didn’t die because she was premature, she died because of that, because her lungs fused together.

"They have ruined my life. I have thought about taking my own life and I got to the doctors so quickly – they have helped me so much.

"Any trauma in my life, I go straight there. I have hyperthyroidism now because of it because I react to the trauma of it.

"I started having panic attacks, and since then I’ve been really unwell. It’s been worse since it all came out three months again.

"My family have been brilliant – I’m glad I’ve got them. I’m glad they respected my wishes at the time.

"I am on tablets for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but I do think talking about this, whether I get a response or not, will give me closure.

"I just want to tell my story."

Ann and her family do not currently have legal action against SaTH.

Nicola Wenlock, director of Midwifery at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We have been working, and continue to work, with the independent review into our Maternity services.

“We would like to reassure all families using our maternity services that we are listening and acting on feedback. We have made improvements which have been highlighted by the CQC following their inspection in November 2019.

“We recognise we still have further to go and I’d like to reassure mums-to-be that we are working to best practice guidelines and methods.”