Couple who lost daughter due to NHS trust care failings call for police review

A couple whose daughter died due to maternity care failings have said that they want the police to look into whether anyone is criminally culpable for the deaths of several babies at the NHS trust involved.

Gary and Sarah Andrews’ first child, Wynter, died in their arms 23 minutes after being born at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) on September 15 2019 due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, shortly after an emergency caesarean section.

The Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust was fined £800,000 in January for what a judge described as “systematic failures” in the care of both Wynter and Mrs Andrews.

Speaking before the first anniversary of the independent review into the failings on Friday, the couple echoed calls from other affected families for Nottinghamshire Police to investigate.

Mrs Andrews said: “We really want the police to look at the individual cases and take it seriously, and really consider if there are criminal proceedings that can be taken there.

“From the very start, all we have wanted to do is to stop families going through what we’ve gone through.

“Losing our daughter has destroyed our lives. We’re not the same people we were. We can’t work, every day is a struggle.

“We don’t want to see other families doing that. We don’t want families contacting us saying ‘I’ve seen your story and this has happened’.

“We want change to happen and that has been our motive from the very beginning.

“We want assurances that that’s happened and that changes have been made.”

An inquest into Wynter’s death found that it could have been prevented had staff at the QMC acted sooner.

Neither Mr nor Mrs Andrews have been able to return to work, but have since welcomed a second child, their two-year-old son Bowie.

The couple, who now live in Oxford, said they continue to talk about their daughter and regularly take Bowie to her grave.

Mr and Mrs Andrews say they regularly talk about their daughter to ensure her legacy remains (Sarah and Gary Andrews/PA)
Mr and Mrs Andrews say they regularly talk about their daughter to ensure her legacy remains (Sarah and Gary Andrews/PA)

They are one of more than 1,200 families whose story forms part of an independent review of maternity care at NUH.

It is led by Donna Ockenden, who led a similar investigation at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and was described by Mrs Andrews as “absolutely fantastic”.

The couple urged anyone who feels they could have been a victim of care failings to come forward, no matter how small their concerns.

At its annual public meeting in July, NUH committed to making a public apology to affected families, admitting it has “a lot of learning to do”.

It has previously been criticised as unwilling to accept failings, but Mr and Mrs Andrews said there has been a noticeable change in recent months.

Mrs Andrews said: “The Trust as it stands now is quite a welcome change.

“We feel like there is a shift, we feel like they do really want to connect with families and be open and honest.

“Obviously for them, it is a really long process, it’s probably going to take them years to gain back the trust of families that have been harmed, but also their own staff that the trust has previously failed, because the trust has previously failed staff as well by not providing them with a safe place to work.

“I think they’ve got a long, long job, but we can most definitely see a positive change in the trust from how it was, from the denials, saying ‘we haven’t done anything wrong’, the copy and paste apologies that were going out to the same families.

“It does feel different but we are treading tentatively.”

The couple have since welcomed a second child, two-year-old Bowie (Sarah and Gary Andrews/PA)
The couple have since welcomed a second child, two-year-old Bowie (Sarah and Gary Andrews/PA)

Mr Andrews said: “The measure will now be in the actions. It’s all very well making a public commitment like that, but it will be reliant on actions and they need to be measurable.

“It needs to be something that lasts into the future, it can’t just be allowed to be forgotten.

“There has still been zero accountability of any of the senior leaders that presided over this failure of maternity service.”