Exmouth mum’s wait after trust admits baby death negligence

PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 June 2016

Niki Cunningham.

Niki Cunningham.

Archant

An Exmouth mother, who spent years fundraising for the hospital where her baby son died, is still waiting for compensation - after receiving the heartbreaking news that it was at fault for his death.

Niki Cunningham, 33, founded the Harry Cunningham Trust after the death of baby Harry, aged 36 hours, in June 2012.

She was told that his death was due to the rare condition vasa praevia, and set up the trust to raise awareness of the condition, as well as raising money for the neonatal unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where Harry received care.

The heartbroken mother organised a succession of events, raising thousands of pounds.

But then, last September, she was told that the hospital trust had admitted negligence.

However, her ordeal was not over, as legal discussions dragged on, and a settlement has still not been agreed.

Now, Niki has given the trust until the end of the month to settle, or says she will be forced to take court action.

Niki, who lives in Windsor Square with husband Jamie and children William, six, and Florence, three, says she had initially been told, following a hospital investigation into Harry’s case, that doctors had done everything in their power to help.

But then, after a solicitor’s investigation, allegations were put to the hospital trust last July, leading to the bombshell phone call Niki received in September.

She said: “I really believed when we sent them that letter they would come back and maintain their stance. “

I was really surprised to receive a phone call from my solicitor, saying they had admitted it, they believed they had made mistakes, and their mistakes were the reason behind Harry dying, and if they hadn’t made those mistakes, he’d still be alive today.

“I was heartbroken. I couldn’t get my head around it and still can’t. For all those years, I really believed it was a condition Harry had that caused him to die, and I was fundraising and raising awareness - and it was because someone had a bad day at work.”

Niki says the wait for a settlement to be agreed is only prolonging her distress.

“They’ve admitted it, but won’t just close the case. I’ve just had enough now – it’s driving me insane.

“We’ve given them until the end of June to come back or will be taking them to court.

“I don’t want to do that. I just want to be able to move on a little bit now. It’s been so long.”

In a statement, Em Wilkinson-Brice, deputy chief executive/chief nurse for the Royal Devon and 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.”

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