A COUPLE have spoken of the anguish they felt at the tragic death of their baby son just hours after he was born - a death they say could have been avoided if they had had the proper care.
Yvette Crook and Paul Swaine, of Wyke, Bradford, were heartbroken when Jacob passed away.
And they say the fact that the hospital NHS Trust has still not provided a full account of what happened when Yvette gave birth last April has left them worried at a time when the couple are expecting another child.
Yvette, 31, and Paul, 34, are over three months into their second pregnancy but are growing increasingly anxious as their due date gets closer after their first baby, Jacob, died just five hours following birth at Calderdale Royal Infirmary on April 5 last year.
Yvette’s first pregnancy progressed well with little concern, however the family say a delay in identifying Jacob’s distress during labour and a failure to expedite his delivery led to his unexpected death.
She said she was coming up to being two weeks overdue and was to be induced. She said: “We were told to phone up about being induced but on April 3 we were told there were no beds.
“Paul stayed up all night in case one came up and then rang the next day. At 10am they rang to say a bed was available and I was put on a monitor.
“His heart rate was fine and at 1pm I had a pessary. At 5pm I started having contractions. I was told ‘it’s fine’ and then they never asked how I was.”
She said she was being attended to by a student nurse who was liaising with a midwife. After 9pm she had a bath and asked for gas and air but it took time coming back.
“I was 7cm dilated but the midwife said it was ‘too late for an epidural’.”
She was told the birthing centre and labour ward said they did not have enough staff. She was sent down but there were no midwives available immediately.
Yvette, who was due to have a water birth, said: “I was taken into a room and left in agony. Paul help me into the birthing pool and I banged my head.
“As I pushed the water turn red. The midwife said she couldn’t hear a heartbeat. I pushed again and the water turned more red.”
She said she lost a lot of blood as she got out of the pool and was taken up in a lift and along another corridor to a room. There were no staff there but eventually people came in just around midnight. She gave birth to Jacob at about 12.35am. He weighed 7lb 1oz.
“He was born alive but his heartbeat was very slow. If we had been monitored correctly Jacob could have survived.
“We went up to see him but we were not allowed because he crashed twice. He looked in so much pain we had to tell them to stop. He slowly passed in our arms.”
The nightmare continued for the couple as Paul was given no support and then they were first told they could pick up a death certificate but then told they could not have it after all because the wrong name had been put on it.
A Serious Incident Report carried out by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust responsible for Jacob’s care highlighted a number of failings, and Yvette and Paul have now instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to carry out an investigation into what happened.
Yvette added: “We do not want other families put through what we’ve been put through.
“You put your trust in healthcare professionals. The report identified a lot of findings. I should have been monitored every 15 minutes. It’s something really simple for all care staff.”
Paul said: “It’s deeply upsetting to know that Jacob died following the failings of the hospital, and Yvette and I don’t think it is too much to ask to be given some answers and reasons as to why he was taken from us so soon. We are told that the inquest can’t take place until we have the full medical records but these have not yet been provided by the NHS Trust so we are left in limbo which is especially tough for us as we are going through a second pregnancy and trying our best to stay positive.
“We were absolutely devastated by the death of our son, and we have learnt that his death was preventable if the trust had followed guidelines. We still don’t have all the answers into the cause of his death and feel the trust could have prevented further pain by being transparent and honest and by providing crucial information in a timely manner.
“We want the trust to realise the effect their conduct has had on us and hopefully prevent other families from going through the same.”
Yvette is now under the care of the birthing team at Bradford Royal Infirmary and said she and Paul are taking action because “if it helps one person then it’s worth it”.
Lauren Bullock, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the couple, said: “Yvette and Paul were understandably devastated by the passing of their son Jacob last year. This was meant to be a happy time for them, but sadly it ended in tragedy. They are both trying to come to terms with what has happened, but it is difficult for them as there are still so many unanswered questions as to what went wrong during Jacob’s birth. Delays by the NHS Trust in providing the information mean that an inquest into Jacob’s death is not likely to take place until later this year.
“Now that Yvette is pregnant again, there is obviously a lot of worry and anxiety and the couple really need to know what led to the unexpected death of their baby and that the mistakes identified will not happen again.
“We are supporting them and liaising with the NHS Trust on their behalf. The NHS Trust made some recommendations in the Serious Incident Report and we hope that these will be implemented as soon as possible to improve care at the Trust.”
The Serious Incident Report detailed the failings which contributed towards Jacob’s death and states that “the root cause was found to have been the failure to monitor him during labour”. A total of 10 recommendations are outlined in the report to improve the level of care, which include Human Factors including training for midwives.
In addition to the failings identified in the report, it was found that Jacob “died as a result of acute on chronic hypoxia (lack of oxygen both during the pregnancy and during labour)”.
A witness statement from an independent Consultant in Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine in Leeds also concludes that there was a failure to appropriately monitor Jacob’s heart rate during Yvette’s labour, and had it been monitored then they would have identified it was slow and would have made a decision to expedite labour.
A pre-inquest review into the incident was held at the beginning of March, however the inquest has come to a halt until full medical records can be provided by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust. Jacob’s parents are distressed at the time being taken for the case to progress, given that the medical records were first requested back in July last year.
The Trust’s Chief Nurse, Jackie Murphy, said: “The loss of a baby is always a very, very, sad occasion and the Trust extends its sympathies to the family. The Trust cannot comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality but is co-operating fully with the Coroner’s investigation.”