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North East Lawyer Wants Improved Stillbirth Research And Care



A leading north east clinical negligence lawyer says more research must be carried out to reduce the number of babies' lives claimed by stillbirth.

Despite claims from the Department of Health in England that there had been an increase in midwives and consultant obstetricians, a report from report from CESDI, the Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy, claims that nearly half of all unexplained stillbirths might have been avoided with better antenatal care.

Meanwhile Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, says the UK is short of 1,700 neonatal nurses and that only 14 out of 50 intensive care units provide adequate one-to-one care for mothers and babies.

Angela Kirtley, clinical negligence specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell, says levels of care must continue be improved to help reduce the UK's reported 17 daily stillbirths and neo-natal deaths.

She is currently representing Cherylene Foster, a Gateshead woman whose baby Abigail died shortly after she was born in August 2004, at Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Angela said: "Stillbirth and infant death is a heartbreaking and harrowing experience that can tear lives apart. While we applaud the increased investment and the higher staffing levels, it is clear from the figures from CEDSI and Sands that there is still a long way to go.

"Not every stillbirth case is due to clinical negligence, but a lot of our clients report that they felt a lot more could have been done to save their babies' lives. As well as the continued recruitment of more staff, which would give each new mother the time and care they deserve, more research must be carried out onto the causes and prevention of stillbirth.

"Cherylene Foster is another example of a mother still coming to terms with the death of her baby and is currently receiving counselling.

"Cherylene is particularly concerned about the management of her labour and that no-one was prepared to listen to her concerns. She does not want other mothers to experience anything like the extremely distressing circumstances of Abigail's birth and death within a few days."