Nottingham maternity scandal: Families say latest safety warnings just 'déjà vu'

This video contains distressing images
  • Sarah and Jack Hawkins speak to Charlotte Cross about their experiences - a warning that some readers may find this report distressing

Families say they're not surprised after a healthcare regulator issued a safety warning to an NHS trust in Nottingham embroiled in a scandal over baby deaths.

Sarah Hawkins and her husband Jack continue to fight for answers following the death of their daughter, Harriet, at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust in April 2016.

They told ITV News Central that the fact the trust is still rated inadequate is disappointing, but not surprising.

The latest Care Quality Commission inspection report comes as an independent review into maternity care at the trust was announced - replacing an internal review process.

"Change has been promised and it hasn't happened"

"Deja vu", says Sarah.

"We've been hearing this year after year, there's been review time after time, change has been promised and it hasn't happened", she adds.

Harriet was stillborn at Nottingham City Hospital following a six-day labour in April 2016.

Mrs Hawkins was almost 41 weeks pregnant when Harriet was delivered, almost nine hours after she died.

She explains how the experience has resulted in trauma and nightmares for her and her family.

"I dreamt that I was holding Harriet and she looked dead," says Sarah, "and I was screaming for help and nobody was helping me and there was just someone sat in the corner laughing."

"It felt like it was such a triggering dream from the review that we've been put through, the trauma from that, we haven't been heard, we weren't listened to."

"And it was just exactly what happened to me during my six-day labour" she adds.

At first, the couple, who both previously worked for the NHS Trust, were told their child had died of an infection, but they refused to accept this.

They launched their own investigation and, after hospital bosses initially found "no obvious fault", an external inquiry in 2018 identified 13 "significant" failings in care.

The inquiry found Harriet's death was "almost certainly preventable".

A healthcare regulator this week issued a safety warning to the NHS trust in Nottingham.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) told Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust it must make “significant and immediate improvements” to its maternity services as it said women and babies may not be safe.

The latest inspection says both Nottingham City Hospital and Queen’s Medical Centre require improvement and maternity services at both sites remain rated inadequate overall.

It follows unannounced inspections at the trust in March and comes as senior midwife Donna Ockenden was appointed to chair an independent inquiry into maternity issues at the trust.

Sharon Wallis, director of midwifery at Nottingham University Hospitals, said: “Keeping mums and babies safe and providing them with high-quality care remains our top priority, and we are committed to continuing our work with local families and healthcare partners to make the changes still needed.

“Our teams are working hard to make the necessary improvements but recognise we have more to do and are absolutely determined to speed up the pace of change and deliver quality services for women and their families.”