Hospital admits baby death failings after mother’s concerns were ignored

A couple’s baby was delivered stillborn two days after the mother had been sent home from hospital despite her reporting a loss of fluid and reduced movement in the womb.

Charlotte Jackson was told by an anaesthetist at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital she had probably “wet the bed”, after she spoke of her concerns, including severe stomach pain, during a pre-planned appointment in 2018.

Ms Jackson, who was deemed to be a high-risk pregnancy because of diabetes, called the hospital two days later, saying she had not felt the baby move since the previous lunchtime.

The 29-year-old, of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, went back to hospital with partner James Harris, 30, for tests but was told their baby Jacob was dead.

She then had to return to hospital the following day to deliver her baby.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) said it had recognised “shortfalls in the care offered” and had carried out an “extensive” investigation to ensure lessons were “fully learned”.

Baby deaths and allegations of poor maternity care at the trust are currently being reviewed by the Ockenden independent inquiry.

The inquiry was set up in 2017 by the then health secretary Jeremy Hunt and is reviewing 1,862 families’ experiences.

Following their experience, Ms Jackson and her partner instructed medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell and the trust has now admitted liability and agreed an undisclosed settlement with the couple.

In a letter to Ms Jackson, the trust’s chief executive Louise Barnett said: “The trust recognises how serious the shortfall in your care was and the suffering this has caused you.

“I understand that Jacob could have been born healthy if we had arranged delivery earlier.

“I am very sorry that we let you and Jacob down.”

Ms Jackson, who found out she was pregnant on Mother’s Day 2018, was under consultant-led care because of being deemed a high-risk pregnancy.

In October 2018, doctors recommended a caesarean at 38 weeks because of the expected size of Jacob.

Ms Jackson attended hospital reporting a second episode of reduced foetal movement later that same month.

On October 31, she attended a pre-caesarean assessment during which Ms Jackson, then 37 weeks pregnant, reported losing fluid, reduced movement and stomach pains.

An anaesthetist, who told her the hospital was short-staffed, said she had probably wet the bed and sent her home without getting a senior review.

The couple’s lawyers said the trust had failed to arrange a caesarean by October 31, when Ms Jackson had raised concerns.

The trust admitted failing to adequately monitor and respond to the mother’s concerns, and with better monitoring an early delivery would have been arranged.

Ms Jackson said she had “had a gut feeling that something was not right” ahead of the pre-surgery appointment.

She added: “I was shocked when I was told that it was a one-off and I’d probably wet the bed.

“Despite my fears it seemed like they wanted me out of hospital because it was busy. That fear just grew over the next couple of days.

“When I went back to hospital I tried to tell myself everything was going to be fine but deep down I knew it was bad news.”

She added: “Giving birth to Jacob was absolutely horrific. It’s almost impossible to put into words the emotion of it all, knowing your baby had already died.”

In early 2020, the couple found out they were expecting again, with Ms Jackson giving birth to son Ronnie-Jack in the July, joining older brother Noah, six, and five-year-old sister Elsie.

She described having Ronnie-Jack as a “huge relief”, adding there were also “very bad days, where I feel the loss of Jacob very strongly.”

“We put our faith in the (hospital) staff and were badly let down by them,” said Ms Jackson.

“That we are not alone in what happened to us makes it all the more shocking.”

She said: “Nothing can bring Jacob back but what has happened to the families can never be forgotten and improvements in care need to be made.”

Lawyer Eleanor Giblin, of Irwin Mitchell, said “totally avoidable failings” had ended in “devastating circumstances”.

“We continue to hear a number of worrying first-hand stories from families about maternity care at the trust,” she said.

“These, coupled with other maternity scandals such as Morecambe Bay and East Kent Hospitals, indicate a lot more needs to be done to improve maternity care.”

Ms Barnett, trust chief executive, said: “We have offered our sincere condolences to Ms Jackson and Mr Harris over the loss of their son Jacob and do so again today.

“We have recognised the shortfalls in the care offered to them and have subsequently undertaken extensive investigations to carefully review the events that occurred to ensure that all the lessons from this tragic incident are fully learned.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.