NHS Trust Admit Failings And Apologise For Death Of Child
A Derbyshire woman left devastated when her newborn daughter died three years ago after staff at Stepping Hill Hospital mistook her labour as constipation has demanded that lessons will be learned from her shocking ordeal, after lawyers secured her a settlement regarding the incident.
Joanne Farrar, 41, from Ashbourne, knew she was in labour when she started to experience severe pain and discomfort on July 7th 2014. However, after driving herself to the hospital in Stockport and informing doctors of just that, they believed she had developed an infection and then insisted she was constipated.
Eventually, after she suffered a bleed, it was confirmed she was in labour and her daughter Ava was born via a planned caesarean section. However, Joanne was left reeling when it was confirmed that her baby had suffered severe brain damage and just days later, on July 12th, the heart-breaking decision was made to turn Ava’s life support off.
A post-mortem indicated that while Ava had developed properly, evidence suggested she had been deprived of oxygen. An inquest into her death concluded that she died of natural causes contributed to by neglect, with the coroner criticising staff for failing to consider “almost the blindingly obvious point” that Joanne may have been in labour.
Following their experience, Joanne and her husband James instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help them gain answers and justice regarding Ava’s death. Now, after the lawyers secured them a settlement with an admission of liability and a letter of apology from Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, the couple have urged that the horrific ordeal they have faced is never repeated.
Gayle Palmer, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office who represents the family, said:
Expert Opinion“This is a truly devastating case in which a couple have lost their daughter as a result of circumstances which simply should never have happened.
“More than three years on, our clients are still doing everything they can to come to terms with what they have been through and the incredibly difficult decisions they faced – decisions no parent should ever have to make.
“While nothing will ever change what happened, we are delighted to have helped them gain justice, answers and an apology regarding what they endured. Stepping Hill Hospital has faced much criticism in recent times and it is vital that every effort is made to improve the quality of care provided to patients.” Gayle Palmer - Solicitor
From the outset, Joanne’s pregnancy was considered high risk as she had required an emergency caesarean section with her first child Bobby, nine, and then a planned C-section with her second, Izzy, six. Her waters ruptured at 30 weeks with Ava, so she required monitoring twice a week to check on the health of both her and the baby.
She recalled: “I did everything I was told by hospital staff, so was stunned when I had some issues with them. At one point I overheard a doctor refusing to examine me and calling me a ‘time-waster’, while it was also suggested that I have a natural birth despite the issues with my previous pregnancies. It was an incredibly upsetting time.”
It was eventually agreed that Joanne would have a planned C-section at 38 weeks on July 17th 2014 but, ten days before, she started to suffer severe pain and discomfort which came in waves.
She said: “Having had two children already, I knew what I was experiencing was undoubtedly labour. I managed to get myself to hospital and told the doctors and midwives, but they claimed it was just a urinary tract infection.
“To make matters worse, when tests came back clear I was then told I was constipated and given medication for it. I was in utter disbelief as no one was listening to me.”
Joanne then attempted to go to the toilet to show she was not constipated and she then passed a large amount of blood. Following that it was confirmed she was in labour and Ava was delivered via caesarean section.
However, just two hours afterwards the baby began to suffer seizures and was then transferred to Royal Oldham Hospital, where it was noted that she had severe brain damage.
Joanne added: “We faced the decision of having to turn Ava’s life support off and it was the hardest thing that James and I have ever done. I felt like I had given up on my baby and remain devastated that I had to do it in the first place.
“I cannot help but think that if I had been treated somewhere other than Stepping Hill this may not have happened. Ava was never given a chance at life and to spend time with her brother and sister and this remains incredibly hard to take. All I wish is that someone had taken me seriously and listened to what I was saying.
“My only wish at this point is that, following our legal action, steps have been taken to ensure no other families face the same horrible ordeal that we have been through.”
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