Inquest into death of baby girl delayed following concerns from ‘whistleblower’

An inquest into the death of a baby girl has been delayed following concerns received by a “whistleblower”.

A hearing into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ida Lock in November 2019 just seven days after her birth at Royal Lancaster Infirmary was due to begin on Monday but was halted following an email sent on Friday afternoon to Dr James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire.

Dr Adeley said the message was sent by Ian Kemp, who said he was a midwife who had “blown the whistle” at the Care Quality Commission over claims that an inspection report into maternity services at the Royal Lancaster and Barrow’s Furness General Hospital in December 2019 was “watered down”.

Allegations of a “potential cover-up” between the independent health regulator and NHS England were also made together with claims of ongoing concerns about the safety of maternity services, the court heard.

Both the Royal Lancaster (pictured) and Furness General are managed by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, which was the subject of a damning report in 2015 that found a “lethal mix” of problems at the “seriously dysfunctional” Furness General maternity unit led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother between 2004 and 2013.

The Morecambe Bay investigation, chaired by Dr Bill Kirkup, uncovered a series of failures “at every level” from the maternity unit to those responsible for regulating and monitoring the trust that runs the unit.

Dr Adeley said Mr Kemp’s allegations were “well within the scope of the inquest” and required further investigation as he may not have the “complete factual matrix in dealing with this case”.

He said statements would be required from all relevant parties before the proceedings could recommence.

Lawyers for the CQC told the coroner it did not recognise Mr Kemp’s allegations.

Dr Adeley told lawyers for the health trust: “I think the trust is going to suggest there is an ulterior motive (from Mr Kemp) and there is bad blood between you and him. I want to know about it in writing.”

Ida’s parents Ryan Lock and Sarah Robinson attended the hearing in Preston.

Both are represented by Mackenzie Jones Solicitors who previously said concerns had been raised in April 2020 by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch about Ida’s delivery but that the trust’s internal inquiry deemed there were no care delivery issues.

The trust later acknowledged there were care delivery issues with Ida and “the fact that she was in difficulty should have been recognised sooner and her birth should have been expedited”.

They say Mr Lock and Miss Robinson believe “little has changed” at the trust since 2015.

Dr Adeley adjourned the inquest for a date to be fixed.

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