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Nottingham Hospital Trust pleads guilty: post plea hearing

By Clare Gooch

Published In: Clinical Negligence - Pregnancy and Birth

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust today pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide safe care and treatment to Sarah Andrews and her baby Wynter.

babys feet in mums hands

Wynter Sophia Andrews, who was the first baby for Gary and Sarah Andrews, was born at Nottingham City Hospital on 15 September 2019, but died shortly after her birth. Her parents are represented by clinical negligence solicitor, Georgina Peckett of Switalskis.

Today, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust pleaded guilty to two charges prosecuted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for failure to provide safe care and treatment to Sarah Andrews and Wynter.

Wynter’s mum, Sarah Andrews, was told that she was in latent labour when in fact it was established. She was left feeling humiliated and worthless’  because her pain and condition was not believed. Over a period of several days she underwent several examinations and consultations with medical staff at the hospital. Despite clear signs that she was in established labour and a worrying CTG result, Sarah’s labour was allowed to continue without adequate progression. Eventually a decision was made to carry out a however the catalogue of errors meant that it was too late to deliver Wynter safely, and she died shortly after being delivered.

A Healthcare Safety Investigation Breach report (June 2020) into the circumstances of Wynter’s death has been conducted and identified a number of failings in her care.

Sarah, who works as a Care Manager for Nottingham County Council, is pursuing a claim against NUHT for clinical negligence. She suffers from PTSD as a result of what happened. Her husband, Gary, has also suffered a injury.

Statement from Gary and Sarah Andrews

“Our cherished daughter, Wynter, was born on the 15th September 2019, but tragically died just 23 minutes after birth. As first-time parents all we ever wanted was to bring our precious baby home.

Multiple investigations and the conclusions of the Coroner, revealed that we were failed in the most cruel way by a Trust Board that has allowed the maternity services at the Hospital to become fundamentally unsafe. Failures that were described in court today as “serious and sustained”.

Management at the Trust were repeatedly warned by staff about the safety of the unit but failed to act. They were repeatedly warned by bereaved and harmed families but failed to listen and learn. They were repeatedly told by different investigative bodies over many years about maternity safety concerns at the Trust, yet they failed to make the critical changes needed.

We hope that this criminal prosecution against the Trust for its unsafe care will finally be the jolt they need to prioritise patient safety and result in meaningful change.

We are mindful that the financial penalty imposed on the Trust does nothing to address individual culpability.

It remains the case that no medical professionals or managers have been professionally disciplined for their failures of care. The Senior leaders at the Trust at the time of Wynters death have conveniently moved and been able to pursue other high paying roles in our NHS. They have not had to face up to their actions that cost our baby daughter her life.

Until there is proper accountability and learning from mistakes, babies and mothers will continue to be harmed and families will continue to have their hearts broken.

We thank the CQC for bringing this prosecution. We hope in the future that there will be closer scrutiny by all regulators, to ensure that history isn’t repeated.

We would also like to encourage anyone who feels that their maternity care fell short to share their experience with the independent review team, being led by Donna Ockenden and add their voice to the ever-growing number of families affected by this maternity scandal. .”

Statement from their solicitor, Georgina Peckett, Switalskis

“The criminal prosecution against Nottingham University Hospital Trust following the gross failures in the maternity care provided to Sarah Andrews and her baby daughter, Wynter, reflect the gravity of the problem in the maternity services at the Trust.

No family should have to endure the pain and suffering that the Andrews family have endured. Although the Trust accepted responsibility for their errors, the fact remains that Wynter’s death, and the harm caused to Sarah was avoidable.

We continue to be instructed by families on cases where incidents of unsafe maternity care have occurred since Wynter’s death. We can only hope that this criminal prosecution is a catalyst to real change that makes maternity services safer for everybody.”  

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Clare has worked in Medical Negligence for over 10 years.  She’s a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team based in Switalskis’ London office.

Senior Associate Solicitor

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