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Maternity Unit Criticised For Death

Milton Keynes Hospital Maternity Unit In The Spotlight



A maternity unit is back in the spotlight after a coroner ruled that heart monitoring had "failed" to trigger concerns about a baby who died within a day of being born brain damaged.

Coroner Tom Osborne said a changing heart rate should have shown a decline in Alex Broughton's condition at Milton Keynes General Hospital last December.

But he said medical staff had "lost an opportunity" to speed up his delivery and provide further treatment as the monitoring had failed to trigger any concerns.

Mr Osborne said there had been conflicting evidence about how a midwife had monitored Alex's heart rate.

The coroner also said an Oxford medical student observing the birth had given "surprising and unhelpful" evidence by telling the inquest, in Milton Keynes, that he could not recall what monitoring method had been used.

It is the third time in two years that the Milton Keynes hospital maternity unit has been in the spotlight. In 2008, Mr Osborne reported the hospital to the Department of Health following the death of Romy Feast, who died in 2007 after data was misinterpreted. His referral prompted a Healthcare Commission investigation.

And in 2009, Mr Osborne complained that midwife shortages at the hospital were "nothing short of scandalous" after hearing how newborn Ebony McCall had died on an overstretched maternity ward in May 2009. He said "systems failures" had contributed to Ebony's death.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Beth Reay from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “We act for many families at Inquest following deaths in hospital which have occurred as a result of system failures. This tragic case highlights the need for robust systems within all healthcare settings to protect patients from avoidable medical accidents. It is also essential that hospitals learn from previous failures to ensure that patient safety is not jeopardised."