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Learn lessons, say grieving parents

Learn lessons, say grieving parents

The parents of Imogen Skelcher, a baby girl who was delivered brain dead after a number of “critical failures” by hospital midwives, have called on health bosses to ensure lessons are learned.

An independent report found that staff at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton had not followed guidelines and failed to spot Imogen’s heart rate was dangerously low. In addition, it concluded they did not identify the pregnancy as high-risk despite Samantha Hewings’ first baby Jack being delivered by Caesarean, while also stating they failed to recognise and act on her deteriorating condition. Miss Hewings suffered a ruptured uterus during the birth in March 2011, and Imogen was eventually delivered by Caesarean section. Imogen’s parents Miss Hewings, 27, and David Skelcher, from Atherstone in Warwickshire, decided to switch off their daughter’s life support machine two days after the birth.

The George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust has now settled the legal action brought against it with an undisclosed payment, running to five figures, to pay for grief counselling. Laura Thompson, Solicitor at IBB Solicitors said:

“This tragic case illustrates the difficulties experienced in a number of maternity units across England and Wales. Research by a number of charities and other organisations has shown that a lack of sufficiently trained staff in neonatal units, overcrowding and unnecessary transfers inside or outside of the home networks, arising from funding issues and other pressures within the NHS, results in a number of babies being born prematurely or with serious illness. Also highlighted are the potentially preventable complications during labour that are being overlooked as a result of the antenatal care provided to expectant mothers, such as in this case. Knowledge of the numerous risks for stillbirth and neonatal deaths is well established. However, an improvement in antenatal care, including attention to the way in which an expectant mother is identified as ‘low’ or ‘high’ risk, together with the constant monitoring of that classification, is urgently required to prevent the outcome that resulted for Miss Hewings and Mr Skelcher with poor baby Imogen. A recent report into the ‘massive increase’ in birth rates, using figures collected from 2011 which showed the birth rate to be at its highest since 1971, further illustrates that these improvements in antenatal and neonatal services are even more critical. Today’s announcement by Health Minister, Dan Poulter, to inject £25 million into improving maternity services in a number of hospitals across the country, ending an application process that started in November 2012, will be welcome news for those involved, but to really benefit to expectant parents, it must come with an improvement on the services provided and not just the facilities and infrastructure.”

IBB Solicitors has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving accident, illness or death, including clinical and medical negligence. If you would like advice on personal injury issues, you can contact a member of IBB’s Personal Injury team, call us on 01895 207972 or email PI@ibblaw.co.uk.