Calls grow for a public inquiry into care at Sussex maternity units

We’re representing a number of families affected by negligent care at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust who are calling for a public inquiry into the state of maternity services at the Trust.

The UK is in the midst of a maternity crisis and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust is emerging as an epicentre of maternity related negligence claims.

Parents Robyn and Jonny Davis, along with Chloe Vowels and Toby Lovett, have already spoken about their experiences.

They have now come together with a group of other parents who have experienced poor maternity care at UHST to call for a public inquiry, with the support of their local prospective MPs, who include Andrew Griffith, Peter Kyle, Tim Loughton and Caroline Lucas, to urge the Health Minister, Victoria Atkins, to order an independent review.

Photo of a woman in a white jumper holding her baby bump

Additionally, Robyn and Jonny with birth injury specialist Laura Cook from our team, met with Donna Ockenden, current chair of the Independent Review into Maternity Services at the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), who reached out to them following the publicity surrounding the inquest in to the death of their son, Orlando Davis.

Donna has expressed her concern over what was happening at UHST and offered to support the families affected in any way she can.

“There is mounting pressure for there to be radical changes in the way maternity care is delivered.

Our birth injury team represent 100s of families nationally who have experienced poor maternity care resulting in brain injury and lifelong disabilities.

Whilst this is a national problem, there appears to be a particular issue in Sussex which needs to be addressed urgently, hence the call for a public inquiry about the Sussex maternity units.

The group calling for an urgent inquiry can be contacted via their website and are asking for all families affected to come forward.

We are also happy to speak to any families who feel they may have a negligence claim and offer free advice and guidance on what steps they should take.”

Laura Cook, Partner, representing these families

Robyn and Jonny Davis

Orlando Davis, the baby of Jonny and Robyn Davis, was born by emergency caesarean section at Worthing Hospital (part of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust) on 10 September 2021 but tragically died 14 days later.

An inquest in March 2024 concluded that neglect had “contributed” to his death.

Midwives and doctors had failed to notice that Robyn had developed the rare and potentially fatal condition hyponatraemia during labour, where an imbalance of fluids alters blood sodium levels.

Their story received widespread media coverage across the UK, including outlets such as the BBC, Sky, Telegraph, ITV Meridian, Independent, and more.

Chloe Vowels and Toby Lovett

Esme Vowels Lovett, the first baby of Chloe and Toby Lovett was born at Worthing Hospital  on 18 February 2022, but her heart was no longer beating.

Worthing Hospital’s own investigation found that there were missed opportunities to provide assessment and/or adequately monitor Chloe and her baby during pregnancy in view of her medical history.

It found that when Chloe called triage at 37 weeks, there was a missed opportunity for an obstetric review, and the plan made by the midwife for Chloe to contact her GP for pain relief and to ask her community midwife to arrange a consultant appointment was not appropriate.

Chloe had reported ongoing pain which should have been assessed by the obstetric team in a timely manner.

Sadly, the fact that Esme is classified as a stillbirth also means that an inquest into her death will not be held.

We are supporting many families whose babies have suffered harm or died due to poor maternity care, at both this Trust and across the country.

If you need advice or to speak to someone about what happened during your own birth, please contact us to speak one of our expert birth injury solicitors.

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