More than a dozen babies have been stillborn due to negligence at two Sussex NHS trusts, a law firm has revealed.

A Freedom of Information request by Mayo Wynne Baxter found that, between 2010/11 and 2020/21, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust settled 18 clinical negligence claims relating to stillbirths, paying out almost £705,000 in damages and more than £1 million in legal fees.

Five claims were closed over the ten-year period by East Sussex Healthcare Trust, with £187,081 in damages and £294,620 in legal costs paid.

Over the same period, 13 claims were closed by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. The trust paid out £517,908 in damages and £745,754 in legal costs relating to those claims.

The figures come just months after an independent review, the Ockenden Report, was conducted into maternity services in Shrewsbury and Telford.

Melanie Minter, head of clinical negligence at Mayo Wynne Baxter, said: “While the Ockenden Report focused on failing in Shrewsbury and Telford, its findings appear indicative of maternity services across the country, which is further highlighted by the fact that more than one baby in England is at risk of being stillborn due to negligence each week.

“Failures in care are being repeated because lessons are not learned. There has to be change and there has to be candour when mistakes are made.

“Our NHS is fantastic. While the first duty of a healthcare system is to do no harm, sometimes things do go wrong and care falls below medical standards.

“Clinical negligence claims play a critical role in safeguarding patients against negligent treatment. In all my cases, clients are predominantly seeking to establish the truth, an apology and to ensure healthcare professionals learn from their own tragic experiences to prevent them from making the same mistakes in the future.

“Suffering a stillbirth is extremely traumatic and while no amount of compensation can change the pain negligence causes, one of the key reasons parents decide to make a claim is to ensure they do not suffer financially.

“The amount of compensation depends on each individual scenario, but can include loss of earnings, expected future financial losses, care and support, therapy and counselling, travel costs, childcare and funeral expenses.”

A spokesman from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We extend our deepest and most sincere sympathies to any family that has lost a baby through stillbirth.

“While these particular incidents are extremely rare at the trust, even a single incident is one too many.

“When they have occurred, we have undertaken comprehensive investigations and learned from them to improve our processes to reduce the possibility of them recurring.”

University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust was approached for comment.