NHS care watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), is intending to bring criminal prosecution proceedings against Nottingham University Hospitals Trust over failures to provide safe care and treatment to mothers and babies at their Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital maternity units.
This news comes after a string of deeply concerning failures by the Trust’s maternity services. Between 2015 and 2020, the BBC found at least seven preventable deaths of babies. Some of the heart-breaking stories can be read here.
It was reported in 2021 that, during the period 2010 to 2020, 46 babies suffered brain damage, 19 were stillborn and there were 15 deaths involving mothers and babies in the maternity units.
Baby Wynter Sophia Andrews tragically died just 23 minutes after being born at Queen’s Medical Centre on 15 September 2019. An Inquest at Nottingham Coroner’s Court heard Wynter’s death was “a clear and obvious case of neglect” and that “gross failings” contributed to her death. The Coroner noted that “systemic issues” contributed to the neglect of Wynter. Midwives told the Court they were “overworked and understaffed”.
Following baby Wynter’s death, the CQC carried out an investigation. Fiona Allinson, CQC Director of Operations in the Midlands commented:
“As a result of that investigation, we intend to prosecute the trust for its failure to provide safe care and treatment under Regulation 12(1) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (RAR 2014) and will report further as soon as we are able to do so.”
Issues at the maternity units were highlighted as early as November 2018, when a group of midwives and midwifery support staff wrote to the chair of the Trust outlining their concerns over staffing levels as being “the cause of a potential disaster”. They also said staff were “burnt out” and “working in fear”.
The maternity services continue to be rated as inadequate by the CQC, which has demanded rapid and widespread improvement. They found the staff was not always carrying out observations, they didn’t have enough staff to care for women and keep them safe, not all staff had training in key skills, and staff did not always assess all risks to women or act upon their concerns in a timely way.
An independent inquiry into the Nottingham maternity services has begun and is expected to take around 18 months. The Inquiry is being led by Donna Ockenden, who previously led the inquiry that uncovered 201 avoidable baby deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.
The fact criminal prosecutions are being contemplated highlights just how serious the failings were at the maternity services.
The stories of the families affected are devastating and tragic. It is vital that important lessons are learned and meaningful changes are made in order to prevent future harm and devastation from being caused to mothers, babies, and their loved ones.
How can we help?
At Nelsons, our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors investigates and successfully pursues claims for children who have suffered an injury during birth, mothers injured during labour and delivery, and families who have tragically lost their baby during childbirth as a result of negligence, helping them obtain the compensation and justice they deserve.
If you have any questions in relation to the above article please do not hesitate to contact Georgina or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.Contact us