In April 2016 Mrs Hawkins was in labour for six days before her daughter, Harriet, was stillborn in Nottingham City Hospital. As a result of the mistakes which lead to their baby’s death, Mr and Mrs Hawkins have now received a £2.8m pay out which is believed to be the largest payout for negligence relating to a stillbirth.
Initially hospital bosses found there was no obvious fault, and the couple were told their baby died of an infection. The parents refused to accept this, and they launched their own investigation. Following an external inquiry, it was identified that there were 13 failings in care. In a report published in 2018, it was concluded that the death was “almost certainly preventable". The errors which were picked up on included a delay in applying appropriate fetal monitoring. A Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust spokesperson said it had now introduced enhanced training on fetal monitoring.
Both parents worked for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, but following the trauma of these events, neither of them felt able to return. Following the report's publication, the hospital trust apologised and said major changes would be made.
Partner and Solicitor Simon Mansfield of Tozers’ Medical Negligence team comments:
This is a tragic case and, as Harriet’s parents point out, no amount of compensation is going to repair the harm suffered or replace their lost child. All it does is replace money they have lost as a result of Harriet’s avoidable death.
What makes it particularly sad is that the concerns expressed by Harriet’s grieving parents’ appear to have been dismissed in the first instance by the Nottingham University Hospitals Foundation Trust in an effort to, as the parent’s describe, “manage their reputation”. This approach and the parents fight for justice then appears to have seriously exacerbated the psychiatric injuries they sustained.
It is telling that Harriet’s parents are open in highlighting that they would not gone down the route of litigation if Nottingham University Hospitals Foundation Trust had been open and honest about the mistakes that were made.
There can be no doubt that a lot of progress has been made to increase openness and improve patient safety in recent years, particularly in maternity services. However, events at this trust, as well as those at Morecambe Bay and Shrewsbury and Telford, and the recent Panorama investigation regarding unpublished patient safety reports, demonstrate that a lot of work does still need to be done to ensure that the NHS learns from serious mistakes in its past to prevent future families from suffering harm.
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