Nottingham maternity whistleblowers believe more scandals happening nationwide

Nottingham maternity whistleblowers believe more scandals happening nationwide

Two former employees of the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUHT), whose daughter died as a result of care failings, believe similar incidents are happening across the country that are yet to be uncovered.

Dr Jack Hawkins and his wife, Sarah, said they are contacted by families from across the country about maternity failings like those that caused the death of their first child, Harriet, in 2016.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the independent review into maternity care at NUHT, Dr Hawkins said there are “missing classrooms” of children in the city as a result of the scandal.

Dr Hawkins was a consultant in acute medicine, with Mrs Hawkins a senior physiotherapist at NUHT when Harriet was born, and became one of the first to raise concerns over care failings at the trust.

But Dr Hawkins, 54, believes there are more scandals that are yet to be uncovered.

He said: “We get contacted by people from around the country, and the behaviours of clinical staff and managerial staff and the letters that we see that get sent from senior hospital staff are the same, just with a different letterhead, as the sort of things we used to get from Nottingham.”

Harriet died on April 17 2016 as a result of mismanaged labour at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, which lasted six days and included 13 contacts with NUHT.

The couple were falsely told that their daughter had died from an infection and NUHT were not at fault, but an independent external review found 13 significant individual failings in Harriet’s care, with the trust admitting negligence in 2018 and the couple settling a claim out of court.

Harriet was then buried in early 2019, having remained in a hospital mortuary since her death, with her parents since welcoming a second daughter, three-year-old Lottie.

They questioned why no-one has been brought to account over the failings, echoing calls from the Nottingham Families Maternity Group for police to investigate.

He said: “We believe that laws have been broken … and to be a doctor or a midwife, you have to meet regulatory standards and we know that those have been broken.

“So how come nobody has been held to account for the awful circumstances of Harriet’s death, and the awful circumstances of their follow-up to Harriet’s death?

“Not a single person has been held to account.

“If this was any other walk of life, or if you were repeatedly doing 150mph on the M1 and every so often were swerving into somebody and causing them harm, you would be held to account.

“There are missing schools, missing classrooms of children in this town.

“How come nobody has been held to account? With that in mind, the police have to be involved.”

Dr Hawkins said he was “not confident” that the culture at NUHT had changed, with a family contacting them to raise concerns about their own experiences from as recently as June this year.

Mrs Hawkins, originally from Northern Ireland, said that there had been a positive change since Anthony May OBE became the chief executive of the trust, but some staff who they had blown the whistle to seven years ago remained in post.

Her concerns were echoed by Natalie Cosgrove, a medical negligence partner at Ashtons Legal, who has previously represented some of the families at inquests into their children’s deaths.

Natalie Cosgrove
Natalie Cosgrove said a ‘toxic work environment’ had led to babies and mothers being harmed (Callum Parke/PA)

She said it was “terrifying” that families were still experiencing harm.

She said: “I worry that the trust is incapable or unwilling to look inwardly and find simple fixes in order to make it look like they want to make changes.

“I see the trust trying to come to families, I see the trust making more public statements, but if I’m being contacted by families within the last few weeks, then the proof is there that there is work to be done.

“Reputation management has to be set aside in order for patient safety to step forward.”