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Couple Speak Of Heartache After Baby Daughter Is Sent Home To Die Days Before Christmas

Couple Call For Urgent NMC Investigation Into Midwife’s Conduct


A young couple whose baby died just days after she was sent home from hospital are today calling for an urgent investigation into how she came to suffer from the devastating injuries that led to her death.

Laura Newman (21) and her partner Stefan Earp (28) from Oldbury in the West Midlands suffered every parent’s worst nightmare when baby Imogen was starved of oxygen. Tragically she died just nine days after being born on 14th December 2010.

The couple is calling on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to urgently investigate the conduct of the midwife involved and a medical lawyer from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors is urging the Trust to urgently retrain midwives to protect future patients.

Miss Newman was admitted to Sandwell hospital on 13th December 2010 and was already in the advanced stages of labour. However she claims she was repeatedly ignored by midwifery staff. When a midwife did return to check on her after an hour and a half Miss Newman asked for pain relief, but the midwife rudely dismissed her request saying ‘not at 3cm you’re not’ and instructed her to stay off the bed and walk around the room.

Miss Newman was left alone for a further two hours and it wasn’t until she started to bleed and felt an urge to push that Laura’s Mother went to find the midwife. She initially refused to attend saying that she had three other patients to deal with. 

By the time the midwife finally attended some minutes later, Miss Newman was found to be fully dilated and ready to deliver. However, despite having a natural urge to push, the midwife instructed her not to and for the next 50 minutes continued to insist that she should not push.

Sadly, by the time baby Imogen was finally born, she was in a very poor condition. She was blue and floppy, the cord was wrapped around her neck and she was not breathing. Imogen was taken to a side room to be resuscitated and was then taken to Sandwell’s neonatal unit but was later transferred to Heartlands Hospital.

Imogen’s condition deteriorated and on the 18th December a decision was made to switch off the life support machine. However against all odds, baby Imogen began to breathe on her own. The devastated couple were told that nothing more could be done for their baby daughter and that she was unlikely to survive for much longer.  They decided to take her home with them so that they could spend last precious hours together as a family. Five days later, in the early hours December 23rd baby Imogen peacefully passed away in her sleep.

Jenna Harris, a medical negligence lawyer with Irwin Mitchell solicitors who is representing the couple said: “This is a tragic case and Laura and Stefan are completely devastated by what has happened.

“The care that Laura received from the midwife would appear to have fallen well short of acceptable standards. Not only was she extremely rude and dismissive to Laura and her family but, when it was clear that something was wrong and the baby needed to be urgently delivered, the midwife ignored the warning signs.

“Although we are in the very early stages of this investigation, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust have already apologised to Laura and Stefan and have admitted that the monitoring of baby Imogen during labour was ‘unacceptable’. We have been informed that the midwife responsible for Laura’s care has since resigned.

“Laura and Stefan are so concerned about the quality of midwifery care, that they have written to the NMC asking them to urgently investigate the midwife’s conduct.”

Laura Newman commented: “Imogen should not have died. I had a healthy pregnancy and all my earlier scans were fine. For everything to go so badly wrong at the last minute has been very difficult to cope with.

“We decided to have Imogen christened as we were told she was unlikely to live much longer. When the life support machine was turned off, Imogen proved everyone wrong and stayed with us. We got to take her home and spend the last precious hours together as a family. She was our little fighter.

“I was initially told that what happened to Imogen was just one of those things which can occasionally occur. However when I spoke to another midwife on New Year’s Eve, she was shocked and informed me that this should never have happened. I was devastated and felt as though this was the first time that someone was actually being honest with me.

“If I could give advice to any other expectant women, it would be to make sure the midwife regularly checks upon you and your baby during labour. It doesn’t make any difference whether you had a healthy pregnancy or not, things can go wrong at the last minute. I wish I’d had someone there to tell me this. I can only hope that the Trust learnt lessons so that no other families have to go through the heartache that we have.”