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Baby Died After 'Unacceptable' Wait

Three hour Caesarean delay


A coroner has ruled that a baby died after "unacceptable" medical neglect led to a three-hour delay in conducting a Caesarean section.

The wait left Natasha Knowles in a coma with severe brain and organ damage after being starved of oxygen.

Her parents Mark, 51, and Snezana made the decision to switch off her life-support machine four days later.

Coroner Brian Whitehouse said the delay "amounted to a gross failure to provide basic medical attention" by NHS staff at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

This neglect, he added "significantly contributed to her death" and was "unacceptable".

He recorded a narrative verdict over Natasha's death on February 7, 2005.

On the day of her birth, a decision was made to carry out a Caesarean section at 11am but it was not performed until 2.23pm.

At birth, she had no heartbeat and was not breathing. Doctors were able to revive her but Natasha had serious brain, heart, kidney and liver problems.

The inquest at Flax Bourton, North Somerset, heard the operation had not been recategorised as an emergency by doctors as no immediate threat was perceived to the baby.

Sharon McKenna, a midwife and clinical risk manager for maternity at Southmead, said there had been a number of errors leading up to Natasha's birth.

The inquest concluded in February without any media present. Details emerged after inquiries by a local newspaper. It found Natasha died as a result of severe hypoxic brain damage, caused by lack of oxygen.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Kate Easy from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “Baby Natasha's tragic death highlights the need for constant monitoring and, if necessary, urgent follow up of both mother and baby leading up to delivery. In light of the Coroner's finding we are pleased to note that North Bristol NHS Trust has made "immediate and significant changes."