Shaun Lintern

The Sunday Times

Shaun joined The Sunday Times as health editor in December 2021 and within months delivered agenda setting scoops in the very best traditions of The Sunday Times. The three submitted stories demonstrate Shaun’s ability to handle complex stories sensitively while at the same time using his deep contacts within healthcare to root out facts that normally elude even the most dogged reporters.

One of Shaun’s first big scoops in 2021 came with his revelations about the drug sodium valproate - a medication known to cause birth defects and disability - still being prescribed to hundreds of women despite rules and a government inquiry in 2020. Shaun took an existing scandal and investigated it from scratch, travelling the country to speak with families as well as clinicians to write the definitive story on how this slow-burn tragedy has left a generation of children disabled and was still happening 50 years after the first warnings. Following this article the health committee has launched an ongoing inquiry, the medicines regulator has launched a review of the use of sodium valproate and MPs raised questions in Parliament including to the prime minister securing families, previously blacklisted by officials, a new meeting with ministers. The Sunday Times is campaigning for financial support for victims. A challenge of working for a Sunday newspaper is covering big events that happen mid-week. Shaun broke the first stories about maternity care at Shrewsbury hospital and in March, with the publication of a major inquiry into what is the worst maternity scandal in NHS history coming in days, Shaun landed a huge scoop that revealed details from the forthcoming report and even persuaded the inquiry chair to do an interview with him. In an inside feature looking at the history of the scandal, told through heart wrenching stories, Shaun painted a picture of failure at Shrewsbury and wider maternity services. He beat everyone else to the story and set the tone for the following days. Shaun has built an impressive contacts list and sources within the NHS trust him with complicated, difficult issues. This is clear to see from his investigation of top spinal surgeon Bradley Williamson. This story had it all - whistleblowers, leaked documents, sexual misconduct and negligence affecting patients. Shaun established key details dating back years, using multiple sources to confirm information and even share with him internal NHS reports about deaths that even families had not seen. In an example of his integrity, Shaun went to Manchester to door knock the mother of one patient who had died to tell her the truth about what happened to her daughter. He spent hours taking her through the documents and then left it to her to decide whether she wanted to be part of the story. She trusted him and the result was a hugely important story that revealed England’s safest hospital was not as safe as it liked to claim. The story is ongoing and has already involved the police and is likely to result in an independent inquiry.