18 babies stillborn due to negligence at Sussex NHS trusts, figures reveal

  • Sussex NHS trusts paid out almost £705,000 in damages across 18 stillbirth-related clinical negligence claims over the past 10 years
  • Nationally, around 2,500 babies[i] are born sleeping each year - 75 of which are due to negligence, according to the latest figures
  • NHS failings in relation to stillbirths have cost tax payers an average of £6.4 million a year since 2010
  • This Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October), law firm Mayo Wynne Baxter is highlighting the importance of clinical negligence claims in safeguarding patients


Almost 20 babies have been stillborn due to negligence at NHS trusts in Sussex - new figures revealed to law firm Mayo Wynne Baxter have shown.

A freedom of information request submitted to NHS Resolution[ii] showed that between the financial years 2010/11 and 2020/21, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust settled 18 clinical negligence claims relating to stillbirths, paying out almost £705,000 in damages - an average of more than £39,000 per case - and more than £1m in legal fees.

The data also revealed that nationally, more than one baby is lost each week due to failings, with trusts across the country paying out a total £29.8 million in damages and £34.8 million in legal fees across 758 clinical negligence cases.

The figures have been released by Mayo Wynne Baxter as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October), and come just months after midwife and nurse Donna Ockenden chaired an independent review into two decades of appalling care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

Melanie Minter, partner and head of clinical negligence at Mayo Wynne Baxter, said: "While the Ockenden Report focused on failings in Shrewsbury and Telford, its findings appear indicative of maternity services across the country, which is further highlighted by the fact that more than one baby in England is at risk of being stillborn due to negligence each week. Failures in care are being repeated because lessons are not learned. There has to be change and there has to be candour when mistakes are made.

"Not all stillbirths are preventable. Some can be caused as a result of complications with the placenta, diabetes, high blood pressure, infection or lack of oxygen to the baby. Negligence occurs when medical professionals fail in providing an acceptable standard of care for their patients, such as mothers not being monitored appropriately during their pregnancy, a pre-existing history of diabetes or high blood pressure not being properly monitored, or failing to diagnose and treat an inflection.

"Our NHS is fantastic. While the first duty of a healthcare system is to do no harm, sometimes things do go wrong and care falls below medical standards. Clinical negligence claims play a critical role in safeguarding patients against negligent treatment. In all my cases, clients are predominantly seeking to establish the truth, an apology and to ensure healthcare professionals learn from their own tragic experiences to prevent making the same mistakes in the future.

"Suffering a stillbirth is extremely traumatic and while no amount of compensation can change the pain negligence causes, one of the key reasons parents decide to make a claim is to ensure they do not suffer financially. The amount of compensation depends on each individual scenario, but can include loss of earnings, expected future financial losses, care and support, therapy and counselling, travel costs, childcare, and funeral expenses."

For more support regarding clinical negligence claims, please visit www.mayowynnebaxter.co.uk/our-services/medical-negligence.

[ii] Mayo Wynne Baxter submitted a freedom of information request to NHS Resolution, which holds information relating to clinical negligence claims on behalf of all NHS trusts in England. Full responses are available on request.



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