Couple Speak Of Heartache After Baby Daughter Dies

Lawyer Calls For Reassurances After Hospital Trust Identifies Errors By Maternity Staff


A heartbroken couple whose baby daughter died after critical errors were made during her birth have spoken of their devastation after learning that midwife delays were directly responsible for her tragic death.

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell have criticised the midwives’ ‘wait and see’ attitude that lead to baby Brook dying just three days after she was born, leaving her parents Gemma Peters, 26, and Liam Greenfield, 30, from Dudley in the West Midlands, distraught and looking for answers.

Lawyers instructed by the couple found that midwives at Russells Hall Hospital failed to correctly monitor Brook’s heart rate or call a doctor for help when no heart beat could be found.

Instead, Gemma was left in agony as her baby’s head became stuck for more than an hour and a half and by the time midwives were finally able to deliver Brook, she was floppy and unresponsive. Midwives placed her on Gemma’s chest, but shockingly it wasn’t until Gemma had pointed out that Brook wasn’t breathing as the umbilical cord had become knotted around her neck, that she was taken away for resuscitation.

Brook was transferred to the neonatal unit where, despite the best efforts of doctors, it was found that she had suffered irreversible brain damage. The couple were advised that nothing more could be done and the devastating decision was taken to switch off life support. Brook sadly died just three days after being born, on 14th July 2011.

Devastated by the loss of their first child, Gemma and Liam turned to medical law experts from Irwin Mitchell and following legal action, the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted full liability for the errors which led to Brook’s death.

Jenna Harris from Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, who specialises in birth claims, said: “This is a tragic case and Gemma and Liam understandably remain completely devastated by the death of their first child.

“The trust has admitted that the care Gemma received from their midwives fell well short of acceptable standards. They agreed with our medical expert’s view that, as the birth was taking longer than expected and attempts to listen to the baby’s heart were unsuccessful, the midwives should have called for urgent medical help.

“Had they done so it would have become apparent that Brook was in distress, earlier delivery would have resulted and on balance Brook would have survived.

“Although the trust has now admitted liability they need to now reassure patients that the problems identified have been acted upon and that the midwives concerned have been retrained so that no other parents suffer such unnecessary tragedy.”
Gemma said: “I had a healthy pregnancy and for everything to go so badly wrong at the end has been very difficult to cope with.

“I went through a long, painful labour and was totally exhausted. The midwives told me my baby’s head was ‘crowning’ and to keep pushing but nothing was happening. I pushed for more than an hour and a half and was so scared because I instinctively knew something wasn’t right.

“At one point the midwife admitted to me that she couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat any more but just passed it off, saying it was probably because my pelvic bone was blocking the sound of the heartbeat.

“Even when Brook was finally delivered, she was just placed straight onto my chest without anyone first checking whether she was okay. I soon saw she wasn’t breathing and that the cord was tightly knotted around her neck. It was only when we told the midwives this, that they took Brook away to resuscitate her.

“I am so angry about what happened. This was my first labour and, like most first time mums, I put my complete trust in the midwives who I thought knew best.

“Their mistakes led to us being robbed of our beautiful baby girl and although the hospital has apologised, nothing can turn back the clock. If I could give advice to any other expectant mum, it would be to make sure the midwife regularly checks your baby’s heartbeat during labour and insist on a second opinion if necessary because things can go wrong at the last minute.

“I wish I’d had someone there to tell me this. I can only hope that the Trust has improved maternity services so that no other family has to go through the heartache that we have.”