Failures at Nottingham Hospitals Cause Dozens of Baby Deaths and Injuries

Author:
Jodie Cook
Senior Associate, Medical Negligence Lawyer
Date:
01/07/2021

Dozens of babies have either died or suffered brain injuries due to failings at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Poor care at NHS maternity units in Nottingham has led to dozens of avoidable baby deaths and injuries over the last decade.

According to the Independent and Channel 4 News, more than 200 medical negligence claims have been brought against Nottingham’s maternity services since 2010.

This included 15 cases in which a baby died, 19 stillbirths and 46 cases of babies being left with permanent brain damage.

The Independent says its investigation shows “a pattern of poor care, botched inquiries and a failure to learn the lessons that could keep mothers and their newborns safe”.

It is very concerning to see yet another maternity unit come under scrutiny over failures in care. We call out to the Trusts to do more to improve patient safety and to be open and honest when things go wrong.

If you’ve been in the care of Nottingham’s maternity services and have concerns about the care you were given, please get in touch with our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors.

Our friendly team of specialists have lots of experience in this field, and offer a free claims assessment, so we can discuss your situation and how we can help with no obligation to you.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

What Mistakes Were Made?

The investigation by the Independent and Channel 4 News highlighted a number of errors, including:

      • Medical notes not being made or going missing
      • Inaccurate medical notes
      • Delays in properly investigating some baby deaths
      • When investigations did happen, details were wrong, or senior management “watered down” the findings to “lessen the criticism”

A whistleblower at the Trust also revealed that:

        • Staff shortages had been allowed to build up to dangerous levels
        • Midwives and doctors sent a letter to the trust board in 2018, expressing their concerns about the impact of staff shortages on patient safety. This was ignored and any incidents were “swept under the carpet”

Medical Negligence Claims Against the Trust

Of the 201 medical negligence claims that have been brought against the Trust in the last decade:

          • 25 were caused by delays in treatment
          • 16 cases involved staff who didn’t monitor the second stage of labour during a birth
          • 15 were caused by not responding to an abnormal foetal heart rate
          • 13 were the result of the complications not being recognised
          • 12 were caused by delays or failures to diagnose conditions
          • 10 were caused by inadequate nursing care

Trust Rated as Inadequate by Watchdog

The Care Quality Commission identified several failings at the Trust in an investigation last year, such as staff not monitoring babies’ heart rates or misinterpreting the readings, or inappropriately grading women and babies, so those who needed intensive care were labelled “low harm”.

Although the CQC has acknowledged that improvements have been made since then, it continues to rate the Trust as inadequate.

Worryingly, the watchdog believes the problems at Nottingham could reflect a wider issue across the country, as 41% of maternity units are currently either rated as inadequate or need improvements.

What Does the Trust Say?

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has said improving maternity services is a “top priority”, and that it’s making significant changes, such introducing digital maternity records and hiring and training more midwives.

Tracy Taylor, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We apologise from the bottom of our hearts to the families who have not received the high level of care they need and deserve. We recognise the effects have been devastating.”

She added that it will continue listening to women and families “whether they have received excellent care or where care has fallen short”, as their experiences will “help us learn and improve our services”.

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