We were sad to read in the news recently that another NHS Trust is reported to have been providing poor maternity care. The historical problems with maternity care at Shrewsbury and East Kent Hospitals are well known but now care provided at maternity units run by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is under scrutiny.
The allegations against the Trust are reported to include the avoidable death of a baby shortly after birth, following a traumatic delivery during which his throat was cut accidentally. In another case it is reported that an infant was sent home despite his mother reporting concerns that he had not cried or fed since birth. Sadly, he later died.
It is understood that since 2010, 201 claims have been brought against Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and that 84 of these cases have concluded with a total of £79.3m being paid in compensation. It is understood that this figure only takes into account lump sum payments paid to Claimants and not any periodical payments or provisional damages that they may be paid in the future.
The Independent reports that the claims since 2010, include:
- 15 deaths
- 19 stillbirths
- 46 cases of brain damage and 18 cases of cerebral palsy
In terms of the mechanism of injury, it is reported that 25 cases were the result of delays in treatment, 15 the result of a failure to respond to an abnormal foetal heart rate and 13 related to a failure to recognise complications. In addition to this. it is understood that there were a dozen instances of delayed diagnosis of conditions or failing to diagnose such conditions at all, 10 cases of inadequate nursing care and 16 cases in which women were not adequately monitored during the second stage of labour.
It is reported that since 2010 more women had a spontaneous or natural birth compared with the average across other Trusts. This implies that statistically fewer women were induced or underwent Caesarean section, both of which are often offered to women when particular risk factors are identified and/or complications are identified.
Shockingly, the Independent suggests that it was noted during an investigation into the poor maternity care services in Nottingham that some “…key medical records were missing or never made, while others were completely inaccurate. The NHS trust failed to properly investigate some deaths for months and, in instances when it did, details were wrong or reviews were watered down by senior management to lessen the criticism”.
One mother, who lost her son shortly after delivery told the Independent “They [Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust] don’t listen to families. It’s ignorance. If they don’t learn from it, it’s going to be a repeat cycle over and over and over again.”
Making a legal claim can make a positive difference when there has been medical negligence. It appears that the serious issues in maternity services at Nottingham were being brushed under the carpet by senior managers at the Trust, however, the statistics collated regarding claims brought against the Trust in respect of the poor maternity care led to the wider systemic problems being identified and addressed.
No claim for damages is ever going to make everything OK following a tragic death or serious injury. Compensation can help to provide a financial buffer for parents as they grieve for their loss or to cover the cost of the care and support that a brain injured child will need for the remained of their life. Importantly, bringing a claim can also help to hold Trusts, like Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, to account and lead to improvements in the standard of care for future patients.
You can read more about the Nottingham scandal here: Nottingham maternity: Dozens of baby deaths after errors at one of UK’s largest hospitals | The Independent.
Our team has extensive expertise and experience in complex negligence claims concerning substandard maternity care leading to stillbirth and brain injury. If you would like to speak to a member of our team regarding a similar issue, please telephone 0208 854 9131. Whilst our offices are in South East London, we are able to act for clients across England and Wales and are always willing to travel to see clients at their home if required.