My Son Died After Being Born Under Bed Sheets: ‘Bittersweet Victory’ For Father

Lawyers Say Father Can Now Start Rebuilding Life After Settlement

23.08.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

The father of a baby who died of a catastrophic brain injury at a Manchester hospital after staff failed to notice he had been born under bed sheets has today paid tribute to a ‘much loved little boy’, after winning his four year battle for justice.

Maninder Singh was born on October 23rd, 2008 at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester following a harrowing labour during which mum Geeta, who suffered from diabetes, was given an epidural – leaving her unable to feel anything from the waist down.

Now specialist lawyers representing Mr Singh say he is finally looking to start rebuilding his life after the Trust agreed to compensate him for the additional financial strain placed on the family as he spent the six months leading to his son’s death by his side. 

Sharon Williams, a medical law and patients’ rights expert from Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office said the settlement was agreed out of court with the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who, earlier this year, apologised to the family and admitted that medical staff had failed in their duty of care to Maninder and Geeta.

At an inquest into his death earlier this year Manchester Coroner Mr Meadow’s recorded a narrative verdict, in which he listed a number of failures to effectively monitor and respond to both the needs of the mother, and the baby.

Sharon Williams explained that despite medical evidence suggesting Maninder was already in a poor condition when he was born a delay in staff noticing and acting to resuscitate him meant he suffered further, avoidable injury. He remained in the intensive care unit throughout his life and passed away on May 4th, 2009. 

Sharon said: “Mr Singh and his family have fought tirelessly in the memory of a much loved little boy who died under horrific circumstances as a result of medical failings and, today, justice has been done - but this is a bittersweet victory.

“No apology and no amount of money will ever replace what they have lost and they only hope that lessons have been learnt and future such tragedies prevented as they look to move forward with their lives.”

Following news of the settlement Kamaljeet from Urmston, Manchester, spoke of his relief that finally someone had been held to account for his son’s death. He said: “This has been an extremely difficult four years for my family. We lost a much loved son under horrific circumstances.

“We have fought so hard and we waited so long to receive an apology and an admission that more could have been done to save him. No amount of money in the world could ever replace what we have lost but we are now finally in position to move forward with our lives. We feel that in some small way justice has been done.”

Solicitor Sharon Williams from Irwin Mitchell went on to repeat calls for the NHS Trust to explain why there had been such delays in admitting liability and apologising to the family.

“Despite an internal investigation concluding in July 2009 identifying a number of key failings in the care his wife and son received Maninder’s father, Kamaljeet Singh, received an apology only in May 2013. The delay was unacceptable and unnecessary,” she said.

 “The internal investigation clearly flagged failures in the care received by Mrs Singh from the very moment she was induced until Maninder’s delivery some eight hours later. He was born with significant brain injuries as a consequence of a lack of oxygen during the birth and later died as a result. 

“But despite this evidence being available from July 2009 an admission of liability was only issued on April 5th this year – nearly four years on. Furthermore, it was only in this letter of admission that the Trust expressed an intention to apologise to the family for the first time.  It was a further insult to Mr Singh when the apology was not signed by the Chief Executive himself but signed on his behalf by an assistant.”

Tragically, this apology comes too late for Geeta Singh who died of multiple organ failure, septicaemia and diabetes just months after the birth of the couple’s second child in January 2010.

The 32-year-old was referred to St Mary’s Hospital on Oxford Road during her pregnancy for specialist support given her numerous health conditions – including diabetes and anaemia.

A decision was made to induce her at 34-weeks amidst concerns that the baby’s growth had slowed. But midwives did not regularly check Geeta’s labour progress and acceleration in dilatation saw her deliver Maninder whilst numb from the recent administering of an epidural.

When midwives went to attach a fetal scalp electrode in an attempt to better monitor the baby’s heart rate they realised that Maninder had been born, and starved of oxygen. He was later diagnosed with a serious brain injury from which he died six months later.

An internal investigation concluded that staff:
• Failed to communicate effectively during handovers
• Failed to fully acknowledge and respond to Geeta’s medical needs
• Failed to properly and regularly assess the progress of labour.

A number of recommendations were made following the investigation including the decision not to administer spinal anaesthetics without a vaginal examination, and the importance of all medical staff seeing ‘high risk women’ during routine ward rounds. 

Sharon Williams from Irwin Mitchell said they were yet to receive a clear explanation of why there has been such a delay in the admission of fault, and apology to the family from the Trust, in light of the findings of the investigation almost four years earlier.

She said: “The family want assurances that lessons have been learnt from the failings identified in the Trust’s own investigation, clarity as to why there have been such delays in admitting fault and an apology to be made to the family not only for their loss, but for any additional heartache they have endured during this process.”

In a letter to Mr Singh the Manchester Trust's chief executive, Mike Deegan, wrote “I would like to sincerely apologise to you for the failure to adequately monitor Maninder’s heart during labour and to express our profound regret for Maninder’s death”.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in medical negligence claims.