A HEARTBROKEN mum discovered the hospital she raised £20,000 for in memory of her dead baby spent years covering up its negligence over his death, The Sun reports. Niki Cunningham set up a charitable trust in her son Harry’s name after he died following complications at birth.
The grieving mum was determined to help the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital after an official report three months after his death showed staff there did everything possible to save him.But she has now cancelled the charity trust after lawyers discovered a near two hour delay in medics making a decision to undergo an emergency caesarean that would have saved his life.The shocking cover up and their failure to take action included one member of staff not wanting to disturb a doctor during a 30 minute phone call. Furious Niki, 33, said the hospital’s subsequent admission of negligence has left her with no option but to cancel her campaign and pursue legal action.
She said: “I don’t know how to express how cross and angry I am. “I have been deceived for so long and I feel like an idiot. I had been going around telling everyone how wonderful the hospital was when they were ultimately responsible for my son’s death.
“I just feel like such a mug. I raised money for them with the belief they had done everything they could and thought I was making positive difference in Harry’s name.
“The hospital had gone along with it all and supported my work, knowing full well behind closed doors they really knew how many mistakes were made. Yet they carried on accepting the money.”I have been deceived for so long and I feel like an idiot.
Niki Cunningham,grieving mum
Niki, who runs a beauty salon in Exmouth, Devon, went into the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in 2012 to give birth to Harry. She started to bleed while in labour at around 9pm and Harry was not delivered until 10.45pm – but guidelines state that an emergency caesarean should be carried out within 40 minutes.
Once a decision was made to carry out a C-section it took just 20 minutes for Harry to be delivered – but the delay proved fatal. Niki – who lives with her husband and two children William, six, and Florence, three, added: “There was just a catalogue of people not taking responsibility to make decisions.”
Harry’s death had originally be blamed on birth complications and a condition called Vasa Praevia – when blood vessels from the foetus run across the birth canal beneath the baby. Following the tragedy Niki set up Harry’s Trust which has gone onto raise £20,000.
Several high profile events attended by celebrities helped to raise the money for different parts of the hospital. Niki said: “We raised the money with the belief the hospital did everything it could. “I instantly stopped fund raising when they finally admitted liability – and was heartbroken to do so. There had been such a lot of positive things come out trust through fund raising and awareness of what we thought was the condition that cost him his life.
“But it just felt wrong to continue. I wanted to carry on and wanted Harry to carry on being remembered but the drive and passion had all been taken from me.” It is now too late to change the death certificate – and no inquest was ever held.
Niki said they now don’t know his true cause of death. She added: “We don’t know what killed him, but we know it was negligence of some sort. It was a shocking cover up. “They have admitted about eight different counts of negligence. “Things should have progressed in minutes.
“When Harry died they made a huge deal about the investigation and claimed to be open and honest about the shortcomings. “It took them three months to come back with a report saying everything was within guidelines and there was nothing more staff could have done. “I just thought – fair enough and let it go. I carried on the awareness campaign and fund raising until my husband and my mum insisted there was more to the story.
“We got a solicitor to have a look and I honestly thought nothing else would come of it. “But I couldn’t believe what he found and then they came back and admitted to negligence and that they had lied all this time. “I can’t believe they are still working at the hospital with zero ramifications.”
Niki and her solicitors are now working with the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Trust on a settlement but she said she could take the matter to court. Em Wilkinson-Brice, deputy chief executive and chief nurse for the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Trust has admitted negligence and apologised sincerely and unreservedly to Niki following the death of her son Harry and we very much regret the shortcomings in his care.
“For legal reasons, we feel it would be inappropriate to make further public comment at this time.”