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Specialist hospital trust to pay damages over baby death


A north west trust has agreed to pay damages over the death of a baby girl after midwives failed to act on signs she was in distress.

Aylar Gabriella Aitken was born at Liverpool Women’s Hospital by emergency Caesarean section but had already suffered massive brain damage.

She was unable to breathe on her own and died three days after her birth in July 2010.

Liverpool Womens NHS Foundation Trust has now apologised to Aylar’s parents, Susan Powell, 24, and Rendi Aitken, 23, after an investigation found “suboptimal” care for the baby and her mother.

It admitted a “series of mistakes” including failing to follow an appropriate course of action when the baby heart rate monitor showed Aylar’s heart rate was abnormal before she was born.

Staff also failed to keep the heart rate monitor attached to Ms Powell to ensure Aylar’s heart rate was continuously under review.

There was also a delay in sending Ms Powell for the Caesarean section, the trust admitted.

The trust originally apologised in 2010 but then did not respond for eight months to requests for a formal admission of responsibility, the parents’ lawyer said.

Leena Savjani, medical law and patients’ rights expert at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the parents, said she was eventually forced to write a letter of complaint outlining the time lapse and demanding immediate action by the NHS Litigation Authority.

A settlement - for an undisclosed sum - was agreed in March this year. Ms Powell and Mr Aitken went on to have two more children, Gabrielle and Jacob.

Ms Powell said: “I’d had a normal pregnancy but as my labour progressed I could tell by the panic among staff that something wasn’t right. Eventually I was given general anaesthetic and sent for a Caesarean.

“When I woke up all I wanted to do was hold Aylar but the staff broke the news that she had severe brain damage and there was nothing they could do.

“My heart was breaking but I was determined not to leave her alone. Rendi and I took it in turns to be by her incubator and held her as she took her last breath.

“We continue to be very angry about what happened. Aylar should still be here as a happy healthy little girl but the mistakes made mean she had no chance at life.”

Mr Aitken added: “We welcomed the apology but the trust’s refusal to admit responsibility meant the legal case was hanging over us for far longer than necessary and we couldn’t begin to try and move forward with our lives.”

Ms Savjani said: “The loss of a child under any circumstances is extremely tragic but to learn that the death could have been prevented is unimaginable.

“Whilst we welcome the formal admission of fault handed down by the trust in December last year, we are concerned about how long it took for the trust to make this, given that it clearly had all the information it needed to come to such a decision for some time.

“The findings of the internal investigation were, rightly, outlined in a letter of apology to Susan and Rendi in July 2010 and the hospital acted thoroughly and proportionately given the severity of the failings.

“But the fact remains the family have endured significant further heartache following a mistake that should never have happened and they, understandably, want to know why this is.”


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Readers' comments (3)

  • Dreadful. Sounds like thar sacred cow Caroline Flint all over again. Poor parents,

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  • I really feel for the family, their care was clearly unacceptable. However, I would have found this a more useful article in the NT, had it contained specifics about what the learning has been for the trust. i.e.: was it individual failure, system failure (no staff/theatre available). We are all care professionals and we all know that it doesn't always go right, a publication like this would do well to avoid joining the popular press in making midwives feel awful, and focus reporting of such tragic occurrences on learning for everyone.

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  • Pussy

    Agree with you "Anon" This article is very much in Daily Mail mode and not at all appropriate for a medical journal.

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