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Hospital failures lead to baby's death

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The parents of a baby girl delivered brain dead after a series of “critical failures” by hospital midwives have asked health bosses to ensure lessons are learned.

The parents of Imogen Skelcher launched legal action against the George Eliot Hospital Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, after their daughter suffered irreversible brain damage in the womb.

An independent report found staff at the hospital had not followed guidelines, and failed to spot Imogen’s heart rate was dangerously low.

Her mother Samantha Hewings suffered a ruptured uterus during the birth in March 2011, and Imogen was eventually delivered by Caesarean section.

Two days after the birth, Imogen’s parents Miss Hewings, 27, and David Skelcher, from Atherstone in Warwickshire, decided to switch off their daughter’s life support and she died in their arms.

They already had a young son Jack born in 2009, and have since had another baby boy named Alfie.

The legal firm Irwin Mitchell, which is acting for the parents, says the hospital trust has now settled the matter with an undisclosed payment, running to five figures, to pay for grief counselling.

The trust offered its “profound apologies for the failings in care provided” to the couple, saying lessons had been learned.

Among the report’s findings were that staff had failed to identify the pregnancy as high risk despite Miss Hewings’s first baby Jack being delivered by Caesarean.

It concluded staff had also failed to recognise and act on Miss Hewings’s deteriorating condition, and failed to communicate the urgency of the situation, stating there had been a lack of communication throughout the labour and approved guidelines had not been followed.

The report recommended educating labour ward staff on heart monitoring, improving communication between midwives and doctors, more thorough note-taking and a tightening of guidelines for natural births following a C-section.

Miss Hewings said: “After I was induced and went into labour the pain was far worse than anything I had experienced.

“I knew something wasn’t right.

“I was so distracted with the pain I didn’t notice the heart monitor and how low Imogen’s heart rate was dropping.

“As soon as I realised, I called a midwife and she notified a doctor and I was rushed for a caesarean section.

“Nothing can turn back the clock, but we just hope that the hospital trust has learnt lessons so the same tragedy won’t happen again.”

Imogen’s parents later decided to donate their daughter’s organs so others might avoid the trauma of losing a child.

Sara Burns, partner at Irwin Mitchell’s, said: “An independent report highlighted a series of critical errors made by midwives and included recommendations to ensure the same mistakes cannot be made again.

“It is absolutely vital that the trust now proves these recommendations have been implemented to give peace of mind to current and future patients that their safety is the top priority.”

A spokesman for the hospital said: “George Eliot Hospital Trust wishes to express its sincere condolences to the family and offers its profound apologies for the failings in the care provided. Several lessons have been learned as a result of this case and changes implemented to improve processes as a result.

“A legal claim has been presented by the family and a settlement has been agreed between the parties. It would be inappropriate for the Trust to comment further.”

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