Maternity Unit Under Fire For Baby Deaths


A review has been undertaken at a Devon maternity unit following a succession of deaths and serious injuries involving babies.

According to recent reports, a number of staff members have been suspended following several “incidents” at the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

Concerns regarding the hospital’s practices were raised following an unusually high number of newborn deaths in the past two years. There have also been a number of babies suffering brain injuries, breeding a growing concern regarding working practices within the Barnstaple-based hospital’s gynaecology department.

Six months ago, a successful clinical negligence claim resulted in the hospital admitting fault and paying compensation after a baby was stillborn in 2014 because midwives failed to correctly monitor the pregnancy.

In response to the recent spate of incidents at the unit, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust alerted NHS Improvement – the group responsible for overseeing trusts.  In addition, the Trust invited the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to visit. During this, a number of initial recommendations for improvement were made, including some changes to working patterns for consultants. The hospital is currently awaiting the full report from RCOG.


If you have experienced a similar issue with regards to birth and/or infant loss and wish to discuss this in a safe environment, please contact our Medical Negligence Department – our team of expert solicitors will be able to assist and can offer free initial advice. Call on 01708 229444 or email us using our contact form.This article was written by Kim Huggins, Medical Negligence Solicitors at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of November 2017.


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