Parents Use SANDS Awareness Month To Call For Lessons To Be Learned
A mum, whose baby was delivered stillborn following care failings, has finally received an official apology from hospital bosses nearly 18 months after her daughter’s death.
Becky Davies’ daughter Freya was delivered stillborn nearly 48 hours after the 29-year-old first telephoned Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield complaining of pain, saying her waters had broken. However, hospital staff insisted she was not in labour.
Becky then experienced delays in receiving the vital care she needed. Her placenta ruptured, starving Freya of oxygen.
Following Freya’s death Becky and her husband Jordan, 23, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Kings Mill Hospital.
The Trust admitted liability in November 2017 when it said it would issue an official apology to the family. In January, the Trust repeated its promise to apologise. Becky, from Mansfield, has now received her apology letter six months after she was told the Trust would write to her.
Richard Mitchell, chief executive of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, apologised for the “substandard care” Becky received and acknowledged that that hospital “missed opportunities” to “properly react to the risks you and baby Freya faced.”
He added: “Had we reacted sooner it would have increased the chances for baby Freya to survive. I cannot imagine how heart-breaking this is for you and your family.”
Mr Mitchell also said that the Trust had “identified and acted upon opportunities to improve” maternity care.
Becky and Jordan, have now joined their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in using SANDS Awareness Month to call on the Trust to ensure it learns lessons from Freya’s death.
Expert OpinionWhat was meant to be a joyous occasion turned into heartbreak for Becky and Jordan following the serious failings in care their family received.
“Whilst we are pleased that the Trust admitted liability we feel that it could have acted with more urgency to apologise to Becky, moving to reassure her that it had learned lessons from Freya’s tragic death.
“Sadly, we see through our work that stillbirths and neonatal deaths are still a significant issue in the UK. Becky and Jordan want to do everything they can to make sure what they went through doesn’t happen to other parents." Kimberley Nightingale - Solicitor
Becky said: “We have always said that an apology would never bring Freya back. However, for us to be told that an apology would be forthcoming and then not to hear anything for six months made us feel like our concerns were not being taken seriously again by the hospital.
“We will never get over losing Freya and there is not a day goes by where we don’t think of her and all the memories we could be creating as a family. Although Freya is not here she will always be a part of our family.
“It’s so important that if any women feel like their concerns are not being taken seriously, they don’t take no for an answer. I hope that no other families have to suffer the devastation that our family have.”
Becky telephoned hospital at about 10am on 17 December 2016, on her birthday, saying her waters broke at home, but despite telling midwives as her pain increased that she was in labour, they insisted she was not and suggested that she monitor this before calling back again. At about 6pm she was told to attend hospital following a further phone call.
Following an examination it was confirmed Becky was in labour and she was admitted to the maternity unit.
Becky continued to be monitored on 18 December and awoke at around 1am on December 19 in severe pain. However, she was told she was not in labour. Several heart rate scans were performed but each time staff could not locate Freya’s heartbeat. Becky made repeated pleas to be seen by a doctor. She was finally taken to the birthing unit and gave birth to Freya just after 9am, however, doctors could not resuscitate her daughter.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust launched a Serious Untoward Incident investigation and concluded that “human error led to inadequate care being assessed, planned and implemented which led to the sad death of Miss BM’s baby.”
It added that the registrar failed to provide a senior review when asked and two midwives failed to escalate their concerns beyond the registrar.
The Trust identified five lessons from Becky’s care including that any concerns should be escalated and must be persistent if unease persists; women with a high-risk pregnancy should have a plan of care made by the registrar/consultant when presenting in triage and that record keeping can be improved.
SANDS Awareness Month, which attempts to increase awareness of stillbirth and neonatal deaths and the impact these tragic situations can have on the parents involved.
The month-long event raises funds that enable the charity to support anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth. The organisation provides vital emotional support and information for parents, grandparents, siblings, children, families and friends, health professionals and others.
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases.