Investigations into seven serious incidents in the maternity departments at the Royal Derby Hospital and Queen’s Hospital in Burton are currently underway.

The cases are being investigated by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), an independent watchdog which has been in operation since April 2017. The HSIB investigates up to 30 safety incidents each year. Anyone concerned about a clinical incident or a wider safety issue can submit a safety awareness form, which is then reviewed by the HSIB against their criteria. HSIB would commence investigations in cases where they felt it would lead to meaningful and positive change to improve patient safety and clinical standards.

Mr Keith Conradi, the chief investigator at HSIB, noting the importance of the need for people to speak out stated;

“It is an opportunity for people to provide us with frank, candid information where they know that we will take the relevant parts of that information and use it to help learning.”

The cases being investigated at the Derby and Burton hospitals involve maternal deaths, suspected brain injuries, term stillbirths and early neonatal deaths. Four of the cases occurred at the Royal Derby and three at Queen’s Hospital.

Naomi Solomon, Solicitor at Freeths LLP, noting the invaluable work that HSIB carry out, said:

“The need to carry out investigations within the healthcare sector can sometimes be met with a degree of hostility, however, the importance of checks and balances within this sector should not be underestimated given the potential fatal consequences that can occur.” 

Freeths solicitors have considerable experience in representing clients following maternity incidents, including parents whose children have acquired an injury at birth. The widely reported and important case of Webster v Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust serves as an example. Karen Reynolds, Partner of the Derby and Stoke Medical Negligence team at Freeths LLP, represented the Claimant and the case succeeded in the Court of Appeal.

The Claimant was born on 7 January 2003. As he developed in his mother’s womb, polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) was identified and it became apparent that he was small for his gestational age. The significance of these findings were missed by the Defendant hospital and consequently the Claimant was starved of oxygen at birth, resulting in severe cerebral palsy. The Court of Appeal ruled that the Obstetrician had been negligent in failing to discuss with the Claimant’s mother the presence of polyhydramnios and the fact that he was small for his gestational age. The Court held that these features should have been discussed with her as there was a risk that the presence of these features could cause her son harm. The Court held that had the Claimant’s mother been told about the risks and benefits of earlier delivery, she would have asked for an earlier delivery. Quantum investigations are ongoing in what will be a multi-million pound settlement to help ensure the Claimant’s needs are met for the rest of his life.

The Freeths Clinical Negligence Team have years of specialist expertise in investigating the care provided to mother and baby leading up to, during and following birth. In particular our Derby team, consisting of Karen Reynolds, Claire Cooper, and Naomi Solomon are currently investigating a number of cases relating to injury caused to mothers and babies at local hospitals, including the Derby Royal Hospital and Burton Queens Hospital. These include cases resulting in Cerebral Palsy, brain damage, perineal tearing, PTSD and psychiatric damage, stillbirth, and neonatal death.

In addition, Claire Cooper is the recommended solicitor for the Staffordshire Area, for the Foundation for Infant Loss. Freeths LLP have a close connection with The Foundation for Infant Loss, which is also committed to educating medical and medico-legal professionals about infant loss and bereavement. Jane Williams of our Leicester office and Carolyn Lowe of our Oxford and Milton Keynes offices, are also officially endorsed by the Foundation of Infant Loss having received their specialist training on stillbirth and infant loss.

If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of our local Derby and Stoke team for a free, informal discussion about your circumstances and how we may be able to help you;

Karen Reynolds, Partner: 0845 272 5677 or karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Claire Cooper, Solicitor: 0845 274 6830 or claire.cooper@freeths.co.uk

Naomi Solomon, Solicitor: 0845 030 5742 or naomi.solomon@freeths.co.uk

Alternatively, you can contact our National Team:

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

For further information about this news report please also visit the BBC East Midlands website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/localnews/2651347-derby/0

For further information about our team and how we may be able to help you, visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/