Nottingham University Hospitals Trust fined for negligence following baby death | Fieldfisher
Skip to main content

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust fined for negligence following baby death

Arti Shah
In only the second criminal prosecution brought against an NHS maternity unit by the CQC, the beleaguered Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH) was fined £800,000 last week after admitting failings in the care of a baby who died after 23 minutes.

Baby Wynter Andrews died in 2019 at the Queen's Medical Centre from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy - a loss of oxygen flow to the brain - which could have been prevented had she been delivered earlier. She was eventually delivered in poor condition with the umbilical cord wrapped around her leg and neck. Attempts to resuscitate her were stopped after 23 minutes and she died.

The fine - the largest handed out to an NHS trust over maternity care – was imposed at Nottingham Magistrates' Court after the judge was told a 'catalogue of failings' exposed Wynter and her mother Sarah to 'a significant risk of harm' in September 2019 after Sarah was admitted to hospital six days after her initial contractions.

The Trust reiterated its apology to the family in court and told the judge the maternity centre was busy at the time and the mother's medical history was not handed over to staff during shift changes. A previous inquest heard there were 'missed opportunities' to move the mother's labour along and begin one-to-one care.

A doctor did not react to concerns from midwives about a possible infection or over a trace examination of Wynter, the inquest heard.

NUH maternity units have been rated inadequate since 2020 and are part of a review by Donna Ockenden into maternity failings. In October last year, Ms Ockenden wrote an open letter asking for families affected to be part of the review.

The team and I continue to act for a number of families affected by substandard care at the Trust.

In 2018, I settled the tragic negligence claim for the parents of Sebastian Harold after the Trust admitted it had provided 'sub-optimal care' to Sebastian and his mother. Sebastian died after he suffered acute brain injury during his birth.

At an inquest in 2017, the Coroner said that Sebastian "should have been delivered earlier, and if he had been, it is likely that he would have avoided the final period of severe hypoxia…….In those circumstances, it is likely that he would have been born healthy". 

During her labour, Sebastian's mother Stephanie repeatedly voiced her concern about the ongoing administration of Syntocinon. Already worried about Sebastian's decreasing heart rate, Stephanie was adamant she did not want to be given the drug used to speed up labour. Doctors ignored her wishes and administered Syntocinon for several hours.

Despite continually telling midwives and doctors in the labour suite that she could not feel Sebastian moving, they refused her pleas for a caesarean, and despite Sebastian's heart rate clearly decelerating during contractions. After 12 hours, Stephanie was finally rushed into theatre for an emergency C-section but Sebastian was still born and had to be resuscitated.

He was taken into intensive care and kept in hospital for a month, suffering from fits. Doctors warned Stephanie and Jon that it was unlikely their baby would survive. The Harrolds brought Sebastian home, where he died from infection.

More recently, I secured liability settlement for a four-year-old boy for injuries suffered during the course of his mother's labour and his delivery at Nottingham City Hospital.

ABC's mother's pregnancy was uncomplicated during the antenatal period, but she alleged a number of breaches of duty from the time she attended hospital a few days before ABC's birth. The Trust accepted that ABC suffered a chronic partial hypoxic insult as a result of failings.

Read more about Arti's comments on NUH.

Read about our birth injury cases.

Related expertise

Birth Injury Claims