Parents Demand Improvements in Obstetric Standards After Newborn Baby Died Due To Failures In Care During Labour

Medical Experts say Baby Frankie’s Death was ‘Completely Avoidable’


The parents of a baby boy who died after medical staff failed to monitor him properly and identify that he was in distress are demanding action to improve care for future parents and newborns.

Ami Solomons Hodges, 31, and her partner Russell Lee, 48, from Great Wakering in Essex, are speaking out for the first time today following an Inquest into the death of their son Frankie, who died in March last year shortly after he was delivered at Southend Hospital. Doctors have confirmed that Frankie died after his umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck, starving him of oxygen.

Medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who are representing the couple say they are ‘deeply concerned’ by a catalogue of failings identified in an internal investigation carried out by Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust following Frankie’s death. 

The investigation report concluded that staff failed to adequately interpret the baby’s heart monitor trace during labour and listed the fact that Frankie’s delivery occurred during a shift handover as a contributory factor to his death. 

Following a two day hearing at Chelmsford’s Civic Centre, HM Senior Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray today (23 January) recorded a narrative conclusion and said: “On 28 March 2014 Ami Hodges was admitted to Southend Hospital after a spontaneous rupture of membranes. Baby Frankie Hodges was delivered by emergency caesarean section on 29 March 2014. He died at 20.43pm that evening. The cause of death was perinatal asphyxia. There were serious failings in the care provided to Baby Frankie and to his mother by Southend Hospital. More timely intervention would probably have resulted in a better outcome. Baby Frankie would probably have survived. Baby Frankie’s death was contributed to by neglect.”

The Inquest heard evidence that during Ami’s labour, Frankie’s heart rate was monitored but staff failed to recognise that the CTG trace indicated that the baby was in distress and needed to be delivered. This resulted in a significant delay in Frankie’s delivery during which time he was starved of oxygen.

Frankie was eventually delivered by emergency caesarean section but he was not breathing and despite resuscitation attempts he died at just 47 minutes of age. 

A medical expert instructed by the Coroner, Dr Malcolm Griffiths, concluded that: “Frankie’s death would have been avoidable had appropriate action been taken in response to the abnormal CTG trace” leaving his parents devastated and demanding action to improve future care. 

Although the hospital has implemented some recommendations for improvement from their internal report, the family wants assurances that all steps have been taken to ensure that the same mistakes aren’t made again. The family also demand a formal apology for the appalling standard of care that they and Frankie received.  

Expert Opinion
This is a tragic and heart breaking case that has had devastating consequences for a young couple who were very much looking forward to welcoming home their first child.

“It is encouraging that the Trust has conducted a thorough investigation into what happened to Frankie however the results of their report are extremely concerning. It is essential that the family are now given assurances that steps will be taken to improve maternity services at the hospital.

“The inquest has gone some way to providing Ami and Russell with the answers they sought in relation to the events of 29 March 2013 and we will continue to work on their behalf to secure financial compensation for Frankie’s death.”
Georgie Cushing (Nee Kerr-Dineen), Solicitor
Commenting after the inquest, Ami, said: “Russell and I were really looking forward to Frankie’s birth and being parents for the first time. We were both devastated when Frankie died and that last 10 months have been extremely difficult for us.

“I have always believed that had medical staff listened to my concerns and monitored Frankie’s condition more closely, Frankie would have been delivered sooner than he was and he would be still with us today – the inquest has confirmed my suspicions.

“We are grateful to the Coroner for conducting a thorough inquiry and hope that the Trust will pay heed to the shortcomings identified in their own investigation report. We will continue to work with our team at Irwin Mitchell in order to get justice in Frankie’s memory and to ensure that no other families go through what we have over the past year.”

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a negligent delivery, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.