Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Admits Breach Of Duty
A Bradford woman who lost her baby daughter to stillbirth is calling for lessons to be learned after a hospital Trust apologised for failings in her care.
Rebekah Muldowney, 34, was 40 weeks pregnant when she attended Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield with bleeding, pain and vomiting. She was given pain relief and, following assessment of the baby, she went home.
Later the same day, Rebekah, of Oakenshaw, returned to hospital reporting contractions, continued vomiting and blood loss.
Around an hour-and-a-half after admission, Rebekah reported she was unsure about the baby’s movements. Almost three hours later, an attempt was made to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, which couldn’t be found. An ultrasound scan confirmed the baby had died. Labour was induced and Theodora was subsequently delivered by caesarean section.
A post mortem examination report stated the cause of death as acute chorioamniotisis, which is a bacterial infection affecting the membranes surrounding the baby.
Following their baby’s death, Rebekah and her husband Thomas, 34, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate mum and baby’s care under Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Through NHS Resolution, the Trust has now admitted a breach of duty. It acknowledges there were failings in relation to the care provided to Rebekah at Pinderfields’s maternity unit and that there were elements of care that “fell below the standard she and her family were entitled to expect.”
The Trust sent a letter of apology to Rebekah, and the parties are working together now to reach a settlement for the family.
Irwin Mitchell represents hundreds of families affected by issues in maternity care. This includes the Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals scandal where the Ockenden review is investigating more than 1,800 incidents of maternity deaths as well as injuries to babies and mums.
The law firm is campaigning to improve maternity services across the country and has also contributed to the Health Committee’s Maternity Safety Call for Evidence.
Expert Opinion“It’s less than a year since Theodora’s death and it’s all still so raw for Rebekah and Thomas. What should have been one of the greatest days of their lives turned into the complete opposite and continues to have a profound effect on them.
Through our work, we sadly see many people dealing with the heartbreak of losing a loved one, and stillbirth is nothing short of traumatic.
Sadly, we can’t do anything to bring Theodora back, but we welcome the Trust’s admission and now call for lessons to be learned to prevent this happening to others.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to support Rebekah, Thomas and their family as they continue to attempt to come to terms with their loss as best they can.”
Tracy Tai - Solicitor
Rebekah, a graphic designer, telephoned the maternity triage service just around 9.15am on 16 August 2020 before attending hospital. During assessment, the baby’s heart rate was reported as ‘normal.’ Rebekah returned home around 1pm.
She went back to hospital around 6.15pm, where she was taken to the birthing centre for assessment. Around 10 minutes later, the baby’s heartbeat was recorded as 139 bpm.
At 7.45pm, Rebekah reported uncertainty around the baby’s movements that day. She was added to a waiting list to check the baby’s heart rate. An attempt was made at 10.30pm, but the baby’s heartbeat couldn’t be found.
Rebekah underwent an ultrasound scan and she and Thomas were told that their baby had died.
Labour was induced and Theodora was delivered stillborn at around 3.30pm two days later.
Rebekah said: “I don’t think we’ll ever get over losing Theodora so tragically. We were both looking forward to being parents and my pregnancy went by with no problems, so it never even crossed my mind that we wouldn’t be taking our baby girl home from hospital with us and starting a life with her.
“When I was admitted into hospital the second time, I was classed as low risk. Because of this, I was treated just like a scared first-time mum and I wasn’t listened to when I raised concerns about Theo’s reduced movements. I ended up being stuck on a waiting list while my baby was in distress.
“It’s not even a year since she died and I think about her every day and often imagine what she would be like now. It’s absolutely devastating to know that we’ll never see her grow up; it breaks our hearts.
“We would give anything to turn back the clock and for things to be different but we know that’s not possible. All we can do now is share what happened and urge other mums-to-be to push for a second opinion if they think something’s not right and advocate for themselves.
“I also want to let others know there is help out there. We’ve had amazing support from the Forget-Me-Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield, and are still in contact with them to this day.”
The stillbirth and neonatal death charity SANDS is running its Always There Campaign through June. It is raising awareness of support available and how when a baby dies, their memory lives on.
For more information, visit www.sands.org.uk.
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