Grieving couple who refused to accept the hospital’s explanation of their stillborn daughter and fought for years to find out the truth about her death have welcomed news that the case is being investigated by police

Jack and Sarah Hawkins’ refusal to accept the NUH’s explanation that their stillborn daughter Harriet had “died of an infection” seven years ago was instrumental in uncovering the Nottingham maternity scandal.

Because her daughter was delivered without breathing, there was no inquest into Harriet’s death.

But the couple – who both worked at the trust – knew from their own medical knowledge that Nottingham City Hospital’s claim about the infection in the womb was untrue.

With the support of their lawyers, they began their own investigation – and were forced to keep Harriet’s body in the morgue for two years while the investigation continued.

A root cause analysis report published in 2018 concluded that the tragedy, which unfolded after Ms Hawkins was sent home from hospital twice while in labor and in excruciating pain, was “almost certainly preventable”.

Jack and Sarah Hawkins (pictured with daughter Lottie) welcome a police investigation into the death of their stillborn daughter

Jack and Sarah Hawkins (pictured with daughter Lottie) welcome a police investigation into the death of their stillborn daughter

The errors included a delay in applying appropriate fetal monitoring, omitting important information from an antenatal advice sheet and failing to follow the maternity risk management policy.

The report also found failures to properly record or share information, failure to follow correct guidelines and delays in providing proper treatment.

The couple said they asked the foundation at the time to inform police of her death.

They added: “This conversation has been repeated several times over the years with senior staff at NUH and with the local NHS.”

“We expect to meet with the police chief soon to understand what the police investigation will mean for each of us.”

Mr Hawkins, 53, and his 38-year-old wife moved from Nottingham because they “couldn’t stand” the proximity to the hospital where their daughter died.

They now live in London, where they gave birth to daughter Lottie in November 2019.

They continue to coordinate and uncover the experiences of others who have suffered maternity trauma at NUH.

Police are investigating dozens of deaths and injuries to babies at Nottingham hospital

Police have launched an investigation into failings in maternity care at a scandal-hit hospital trust.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) is already at the center of the largest investigation of its kind – led by independent midwife Donna Ockenden – which is examining 1,800 cases.

Dozens of babies died or suffered serious injuries at Queen’s Medical Center and City Hospital, and affected families have complained about a lack of transparency. A statement on behalf of a group of around 230 families caught up in the scandal welcomed the announcement by Nottinghamshire Police – seven years since Dr. Jack Hawkins and his wife Sarah called for police intervention following the death of their daughter Harriet in 2016.

In the statement, the families, who coordinate through a closed Facebook group, said: “Many of us have committed crimes and we will pass on our evidence to the police to assist them in their investigations.” “At NUH there was over “Many years of poor maternity care and inadequate investigation of that care.”

The group said it hoped the police investigation “includes not only the care of those who died and seriously injured babies and mothers, but also what families say was a wide-ranging cover-up by NUH and NHS staff”.

Officers will investigate events at NUH in parallel with the Ockenden investigation, just as West Mercia Police conducted its ongoing investigations into maternity care in Shrewsbury and Telford in parallel with Ms Ockenden’s previous investigation into 1,500 cases there.

Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “On Wednesday I met with Donna Ockenden to discuss her independent investigation into maternity cases of potentially significant significance at NUH and to gain a clearer picture of the work underway. “

“We are currently looking at the work West Mercia Police are doing in Shrewsbury and Telford to understand how they conducted their investigations alongside Donna Ockenden’s review.”

“Anthony May, chief executive of NUH, is committed to…cooperating with this police investigation.”

Ms Ockenden’s report to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, published in April last year, found that 201 babies and nine mothers could have survived between 1973 and 2020 if they had received better care.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is facing the largest investigation of its kind, investigating 1,800 cases

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is facing the largest investigation of its kind, investigating 1,800 cases

West Mercia Police said Operation Lincoln’s investigation into the scandal was continuing. So far there have been no arrests.

Last week Dr. Hawkins, who was clinical director of NHS improvements and consultant to NUH at the time of his daughter’s death, said that Nottingham was “missing classrooms of children” as a result of the scandal.

His wife, who was also working as a physiotherapist at the trust at the time, added: “There were healthy mothers who came in with healthy babies and came out with empty car seats. They had to resuscitate their babies and went out with ‘tiny white coffins.’

In 2021, the couple received a £2.8 million payout – the highest ever in a stillbirth case in the UK – after an external investigation found 13 failings in care linked to Harriet’s death.

A root cause analysis report released in 2018 concluded that the tragedy was “almost certainly preventable.”

Nottingham has accepted that its maternity services were unsafe and has paid almost £90m in compensation. The claims included dozens of deaths, stillbirths and 46 cases of brain damage to babies caused by errors.

Emma Colton

Janice Dean is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Janice Dean joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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