A HEARTBROKEN couple whose three-day-old daughter died after critical errors were made during her birth at Russells Hall Hospital have spoken of their devastation after discovering midwife delays were directly responsible for their baby’s death.
Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted full liability over the death of baby Brook who was born to Netherton couple Gemma Peters and Liam Greenfield following a healthy pregnancy.
The first-time mum was left in agony during her traumatic labour in July 2011, when Brook’s head became stuck for over 90 minutes.
Lawyers for Irwin Mitchell also found Gemma’s midwives failed to correctly monitor the baby’s heart rate and at one point failed to call a doctor for help when they could not find a heartbeat.
By the time Brook was delivered she was unresponsive, but was immediately placed on Gemma’s chest.
The new mum was then horrified to discover her baby wasn’t breathing as midwives had failed to notice the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.
Brook was rushed off for resuscitation and transferred to the hospital’s neonatal unit, where the couple were told she had suffered irreversible brain damage and they made the devastating decision to switch off her life support machine.
Gemma, aged 26, said: “I had a healthy pregnancy and for everything to go so badly wrong at the end has been very difficult to cope with.
“I went through a long, painful labour and was totally exhausted. I was so scared because I instinctively knew something wasn’t right.
“I am so angry about what happened. This was my first labour and, like most first-time mums, I put my complete trust in the midwives who I thought knew best.
“Their mistakes led to us being robbed of our beautiful baby girl and although the hospital has apologised, nothing can turn back the clock. If I could give advice to any other expectant mum, it would be to make sure the midwife regularly checks your baby’s heartbeat during labour and insist on a second opinion if necessary because things can go wrong at the last minute.
“I can only hope the Trust has improved maternity services so no other family has to go through the heartache that we have.”
Jenna Harris from Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, who specialises in birth claims, said:“This is a tragic case and Gemma and Liam understandably remain completely devastated by the death of their first child.
“The trust has admitted that the care Gemma received from their midwives fell well short of acceptable standards.
“Although the trust has now admitted liability they need to now reassure patients that the problems identified have been acted upon and that the midwives concerned have been retrained so that no other parents suffer such unnecessary tragedy.”
Gemma and Liam, aged 30, now have an eight-month-old daughter Millie, who was born at Birmingham Women’s Hospital where they say they received “second-to-none care”.
Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust chief executive, Paula Clark, said: “First and foremost we would like to offer our most sincere condolences to Gemma Peters on the sad loss of her baby, Brook.
“Safety is always our top priority and we offer our heartfelt apologies that the care provided in this case fell below the high standard we provide each day for our patients.
“A thorough investigation was carried out and lessons have been learned and appropriate actions taken to help ensure that a tragic incident such as this does not happen again in the future.”