Newborn Baby Died After Catalogue of Errors by Maternity Staff

Medical Negligence Lawyers Secure Admission of Liability for Failings

11.11.2015

The heartbroken parents of a newborn baby girl who died two days after she was born are speaking out for the first time after specialist medical negligence solicitors at Irwin Mitchell have secured an admission of liability from the NHS Trust for failings in their care.

Clara Bassford, from Coalville, in Leicestershire, attended Leicester General Hospital on 6th March 2015 for routine monitoring of her pregnancy. Clara suffers from ulcerative colitis and the pregnancy was classed as ‘high risk’ because her two previous children had been born prematurely and needed to be closely monitored.

Whilst in hospital, Clara’s waters broke and her partner Mark told the midwives. She was admitted to the ward and was monitored for the rest of the day. Clara was kept in hospital overnight; however in the next morning she noticed that she had had a small bleed and that Delilah was not moving.

Delilah Hubbard was born on 7th March 2015 at 32 weeks with no heartbeat and staff at Leicester General Hospital resuscitated her. She was transferred to Leicester Royal Infirmary and admitted to the Neonatal Unit and was put on a ventilator to help her breathe. Sadly, Delilah died on 9th March just two-days-old.

Clara, 25, and Mark, 27, instructed specialist medical negligence solicitors at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances leading up to Delilah’s death and now the law firm has secured an admission of liability from the University of Leicester NHS Trust for the delay in taking Clara for a caesarean section. The Trust has admitted that had Clara been taken for a caesarean section sooner, Delilah would have survived.

Clara informed the midwives her baby wasn’t moving but she had to wait some time before they examined her. Then the monitor was not positioned correctly, so Delilah’s heart rate was not properly recorded for a further 1 hour and 40 minutes. Once the monitor was adjusted, it became apparent that Delilah’s heart rate was unusually high with periods when it dropped very low, meaning she was in distress. It was then a number of hours before Delilah was delivered.

An investigation was carried out by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, which found that numerous errors occurred around the time of Delilah’s birth.

The Serious Untoward Incident Report prepared by the Trust also stated: “Whilst occasionally babies under 32 weeks gestation are born at Leicester General Hospital, it is unusual and therefore staff on that site, both medical and nursing do not have regular experience of managing specific resuscitation issues at birth.” Delilah was only 32 weeks and 2 days gestation when she was born.

Expert Opinion
“Clara and Mark have been through a traumatic ordeal and they have both been left devastated after losing Delilah.

“We are concerned about a number of aspects of Clara and Delilah’s care which have been highlighted in the Trust’s report, such as the quality and consistency of fetal monitoring and the delay in taking Clara for a caesarean section.

“Clara’s pregnancy was classed as high risk due to her ulcerative colitis and her previous premature deliveries and she made sure that staff were aware of this. Clara should have been taken for a caesarean section much earlier to ensure a safe delivery. With appropriate care and a timely delivery, Delilah would have survived.

"Now that the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has admitted fault, we hope that action will be taken as soon as possible to ensure that the recommendations are taken into consideration. We hope that the Trust learns from its mistakes to ensure that future deaths can be prevented.”
Anne Brundell, Solicitor

An inquest into Delilah’s death has been listed for three days in April next year.

Mum-of-three, Clara said: "I am still trying to come to terms with losing my little girl and now to find out that there were a number of failings by the staff caring for me and Delilah and that this could have been prevented is heartbreaking.

“I am concerned about the level of experience of staff at the Leicester General Hospital as the hospital itself states in the Investigation Report that it is not equipped to handle premature babies born before 32 weeks. Delilah was only two days over this threshold and I have been left wondering why the decision wasn’t made to transfer me to Leicester Royal Infirmary so that my baby and I could receive the appropriate care by staff experienced in dealing with premature babies.

“I feel that there were several points when action should have been taken to ensure the safety of both Delilah and me. Both of my other children were born prematurely and this did not seem to be taken into account by any of the staff. They did not seem to be concerned by the dips in Delilah’s heartbeat and there did not seem to be any urgency in taking me down for a caesarean section.

“I hope that no other family has to go through what we have been through. The only reason that we are doing this is to make sure that the same thing does not happen to anyone else.”

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