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Mum Of Baby Who Almost Died From Deadly Infection While Under The Care Of Scandal-Hit NHS Trust Takes Legal Action

Little Adam Cheshire, Six, Was Left Profoundly Disabled After Developing Group B Strep During His Birth At Royal Shrewsbury Hospital


The mum of a baby who almost died after being infected by Group B Strep while under the care of scandal-hit Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is taking legal action.

Reverend Charlotte Cheshire’s son Adam was born at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on March 25, 2011, but just eight hours later he was fighting for his life and developing Group B strep, the most common cause of life-threatening illness in newborn babies in the UK.

Charlotte, from Telford, Shropshire, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her and Adam’s care under Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust after Adam, now aged six, was left profoundly disabled – autistic, developmentally delayed and both visually and hearing impaired.

Charlotte’s story comes days after a Daily Mirror investigation revealed medics employed by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust are at the centre of internal and external inquiries. And at least four midwives are being investigated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The investigation comes following the deaths of 15 babies and three mothers at the Trust’s maternity units within the last decade, with several tragedies already deemed avoidable. Others, according to the newspaper, allegedly resulted from failures in monitoring the heart rates of newborns or missing signs of infection. In particular the deaths of two babies were linked with Group B Strep.

Charlotte, 39, said: “Adam’s traumatic start in life turned our world upside down and has changed it forever. Adam is my precious boy and I love him unconditionally but his life is now shaped by permanent severe disability and it didn’t have to be this way. Adam needs are so great that he requires round the clock care and constant adult supervision.

“All any parent wants for their child is for them to live a full and happy life, but Adam needs 'round the clock care' and will continue to do so for as long as he is with us.

“Adam at six years old has cost the NHS a great deal and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. If testing for Group B Strep was mandatory and antibiotics routinely given then it would be a very different story and he would be living a life without limitations.

“If lessons can be identified from Adam’s case or indeed any of the cases under investigation by the Trust, then patient safety can be improved and children can be protected from death or disability.”

Group B strep is the most common cause of infection in newborns in Britain. Harmless to the estimated one in four women who carry the bacterium, it can be fatal for babies if it is transmitted in the birth canal, causing illnesses including meningitis and blood poisoning.

At eight hours old Adam’s breathing was abnormal, he was unable to feed and midwives noted he was making grunting sounds. However, it wasn’t until he was 15 hours old that he was referred to the hospital’s neonatal team and antibiotics were commenced.

Experts at Irwin Mitchell are investigating whether antibiotics should have been administered more quickly, reducing the likelihood of such severe disability.

Charlotte, who is the Curate at St Andrew’s Church in Shifnal, went to the House of Commons in January with a 250,000-strong petition calling for routine testing for Group B Strep in pregnant women in the UK.

Figures from Public Health England reveal Group B strep infections in newborns increased from 200 in 2005 to 300 in 2010. While treatable with a simple course of antibiotics, the UK does not routinely offer pregnant women the swab test that many other European countries do, unless done privately.

Instead, the UK relies on a risk-based approach in which doctors and nurses follow guidelines to identify women with factors that may indicate GBS, including ruptured membranes and a high temperature.

Expert Opinion
"All mothers should have access to the highest standards of care when it comes to giving birth. The death or injury of any mother or baby during or following childbirth is upsetting, but this week’s revelations will be very distressing for those whom rely on the Trust, especially expectant parents.

“Our work means we have heard devastating first-hand accounts from families affected by such losses, which can often be as a result of care failings or errors in treatment which could have been avoided.

"In Charlotte’s case had Group B Strep been identified sooner in Adam, he may not have suffered to the extent he has.

“We would urge the Trust to deliver its findings on these maternity cases at the earliest opportunity, so that any lessons can be implemented to improve patient safety and that future mothers can be reassured that failings identified will not be repeated."
Sara Burns, Partner

You can find more about Adam’s story at www.walkingforadam.blogspot.co.uk

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