Investigations into a cluster of NHS baby deaths highlight the pitfalls of the 'wait and see policy'

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26 April, 2017

Investigations into a cluster of NHS baby deaths highlight the pitfalls of the 'wait and see policy' adopted by many hospitals during childbirth.

A BBC investigation has identified at least 7 deaths during childbirth in less than 2 years at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

In the sad case of Kelly Jones the hospital ignored her pleas to be properly assessed when she was pregnant with twins. Her babies were born sleeping in September 2014. The Times reported that the letter from the Trust to the mother concluded 'both babies had died from severe hypoxic ischemia (oxygen starvation of the brain) contributed to by delay in recognising deterioration in the foetal heart traces and the missed opportunities for earlier delivery.'

Similar incidents are sadly not rare as women continue to be encouraged to progress naturally. The Times reported in January the case of Frances Cappucini who had elected for a caesarean section, supported by her consultant, having had a difficult time during her first labour. When she went into labour 2 weeks early her wishes were ignored and after 12 long hours an emergency caesarean section was performed. In the heat of the moment it was badly botched.  The children are left without a mother.

In another reported case a mother told an inquest that all manner of attempts had been made to deliver her child by Ventouse and forceps, but it was ultimately too little too late.

A caesarean section is said to cost nearly twice as much as a vaginal delivery and I have come across these scenarios in practice and where the child has not died they have suffered lifelong disabilities at a huge cost to the NHS.

It begs the question why women and children should suffer in childbirth. Elective caesarean section is considered by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence to be effectively as safe as an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. Since 2011 any woman who asks for caesarean section should, pending counselling, be offered one.

For further information please contact solicitor Leonie Millard in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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