Heartbroken Mum Of Stillborn Baby Calls For NHS To Improve Standards in Maternity Care

Expert Medical Lawyers Say Baby’s Death Was Avoidable After NHS Admits Failings In Care

16.07.2014

The heartbroken mum of a baby delivered stillborn has spoken out for the first time after the NHS admitted that midwives missed signs that the unborn baby was in distress during the birth of her son.

April Hall, 24, from Bradford, in West Yorkshire was admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary on 1st June 2011 to deliver her first child Ethan. She had a normal pregnancy and had carried her baby until full term, but due to a number of failings made by the two midwives during in her antenatal care, she lost her baby and was he was stillborn.

Throughout her labour, April was monitored by a trainee midwife and a supervisor, it was alleged that they failed to monitor Ethan’s heart rate appropriately. From medical records, Ethan’s heart rate appears not to have been taken from 10:45am and he was born at 11:15am.

Devastated April instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate what went wrong and to find answers as to why her baby died. They have now secured an admission of liability from the Trust for failing to pick up that Ethan was in distress during labour and have secured an undisclosed settlement for April to cover the pain and suffering caused by the loss of her first born child.

Expert medical evidence for Irwin Mitchell alleged that Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s failings included:
  • Failure to pick up Ethan's bradycardia (slow heart rate) which is a sign that the foetus is in distress and struggling
  • If the midwives had picked up Ethan’s slow heart rate, they would have performed an assisted delivery then Ethan would have been born sooner than he was and therefore he would have survived after a period of resuscitation.
  • That the heart rate readings were taken by the trainee midwife and did not appear to have been checked by the supervising midwife
  • That the supervising midwife had not undergone the necessary training to supervise a trainee midwife

Margaret Ryan, a specialist medical lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, representing April, said: “This is a tragic case that has seen April absolutely devastated by the loss of her son Ethan and she understandably wants answers about what went wrong. April has found it incredibly hard to accept what happened and has needed extensive support to help her come to terms with her loss.

“What is clear is that the midwives made a number of errors and failed to detect basic signs which would have showed them things weren’t right and ultimately led to Ethan being stillborn. It is difficult for the family to come to terms with the fact his death could have been avoided.

“We welcome the fact the Trust has admitted responsibility and we back April’s calls to see that the Trust has made improvements to maternity services to protect patient safety.

“We have assisted her reporting the substandard care to the nursing and midwifery council and we hope that their investigation will highlight the hospitals failings and ensure appropriate measures are put in place to stop this happening again.”

When Ethan was born at 11:15am and April asked the midwives why he wasn’t breathing. A midwife began to rub his chest to resuscitate him before calling for assistance. Doctors attempted to revive Ethan but at 11:35am his family were told he had died.

To make matters worse, April’s dad, Robert Hall, witnessed the shocking events surrounding Ethan’s birth and he as well as his daughter was left severely traumatised. April and Robert both suffered from depression and severe anxiety and will be seeking medical help  to help them come to terms with the tragedy.

April said: “I have been left completely heartbroken after losing Ethan, I was really looking forward to being a mum; I had no problems throughout my pregnancy. Whilst I was at the hospital during labour, I felt that the midwives were not monitoring me and Ethan as they should have been doing, but I thought I have to put my trust in the hospital staff to take care of me and my baby.

“When I finally delivered Ethan, I immediately noticed he didn’t cry or make any sound at all. I kept asking the midwives what was wrong with him as they rubbed his chest to stimulate his breathing. Suddenly the crash team arrived and they tried to revive him in front of me and my dad. I was in pieces; I just wanted to be able to hold my newborn son.

“It breaks my heart to know that if Ethan’s slow heart rate had been detected during my labour, the midwives could have delivered him quickly and I would have him here with me now.

“I have really struggled to come to terms with what happened and I hope that through what happened with Ethan that all of the maternity staff at the hospital have had additional training to ensure that lessons can be learned.

“Nothing could bring Ethan back or begin to make up for what happened but knowing that everything possible has been done to prevent another baby from dying might mean we can finally lay him to rest and try to begin the long process of rebuilding our lives.”