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Parents whose baby died say they were ‘bullied’ by under-review NHS trust

A couple whose baby daughter died after spending months in the care of an under-review NHS Trust said they were made to feel “insignificant” and that they “don’t have a voice”.

Ama Maduako and Sharma Thomas’ daughter, Adaora, died on January 25 this year, almost five months after being born at Nottingham City Hospital.

Her death is one of a number that is part of an independent review of maternity services at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages the hospital.

Ms Thomas, 23, who previously worked as a community healthcare assistant for a private provider, said: “It’s opened my eyes a bit because I never thought that people that work in a profession where they’re working with such vulnerable people, babies, I just never thought that people would be capable of acting the way that they do.

“It’s just a shock because I would never do that personally, myself.

“I’ve got my own children now, but even before I had my own children, I was caring for someone else’s child.

“It never would have never crossed my mind to treat a child or just treat that family in a certain way that makes them feel like they don’t have a voice or makes them feel bullied or insignificant, or make them feel like they’re doing something wrong or they can’t look after their child.”

Adaora was born at just 25 weeks and one day old, along with twin brother, Zikora, on September 5 last year after an unproblematic pregnancy.

Both were then placed on ventilators, but the parents were later told their babies’ lungs were bleeding.

Mr Maduako, a 26-year-old medical salesman, claimed that Adaora also sustained damage to her ears and eyes as a result of equipment being applied incorrectly and that at one stage they watched her oxygen levels flatline three times while on a ventilator, due to the machine not providing any pressure.

They also claim concerns were dismissed or interpreted as being resistant to treatment, something they deny.

While the couple claimed that their children were ready for discharge on December 6, Adaora died over a month later, having never left the hospital.

Zikora was later discharged and will have his first birthday on Tuesday.

The couple claim that Adaora’s cause of death was given by the hospital as pulmonary hypertension, combined with the effects of Covid, but her parents claim a post-mortem was carried out which found no evidence of Covid and instead found damage to her lungs.

Michelle Rhodes, Chief Nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals said: “We offer our deepest condolences to Sharma Thomas and Ama Maduako for the loss of Adaora.

“We want to assure Sharma and Ama that we have heard the concerns that they have raised and are committed to working with them to review each of the concerns and respond in a way that best meets their needs.”

Mr Maduako and Ms Thomas, from London and Leicester respectively, also urged other minority ethnic families to come forward to the review, led by senior midwife, Donna Ockenden.

Friday marked the first anniversary of the launch of the review, which is expected to be the biggest maternity investigation in NHS history and will include around 1,800 families and around 700 staff.

The review was recently altered to an “opt-out” approach – meaning families must opt-out, rather than opt-in, to being involved – in part due to concerns being raised over the low number of responses from minority ethnic families.

This has also led to letters about the review being sent to families in other languages, including Urdu.

Ms Thomas said: “It’s very important [that families come forward], but I think the worry is, we have spoken to other families that have told us about their experiences, but I feel like a lot of families feel like they’re not going to be believed.

“We were lucky enough to say to each other, ‘We need to document this’ – a lot of people have not done that.

“They may suspect that something wasn’t right, but they just think to themselves, ‘we’ve made it out of here’ and so they just block it out and don’t want to think about it, because when you actually do sit and think about what you have been through, it is traumatising.”