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Birth Injury; birth injuries; maternity services; injury at birth;

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Improvements urgently needed in some Shropshire maternity services

Inadequate maternity care at two hospitals in the region have been highlighted in a recent report by the independent regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Published at the end of November 2018, the CQC report highlighted several concerns about current practices at the maternity services at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Failings at the service in Telford included high risk women in labour not always being reviewed on a regular basis and not always reviewed by an appropriate member of medical staff; midwives being unaware of current maternity service plans and inadequate levels of recording early warning signs during pregnancy.

Maternity services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital were found to have no defined pathway for supporting women with reduced fetal movements; a shortage of midwives and women with high risk pregnancies not being assessed, monitored or managed in the correct environment resulting in potentially risky delays.

Birth injuries specialist solicitor Diane Rostron commented: “The findings highlight too many areas of serious concern. The NHS Trust needs to address these immediately in order to avert the risk of further preventable birth injuries and baby deaths in its hospitals.

“Maternity care is rightly under the spotlight in several areas of the country and the government has promised a new package of measures ‘to make the NHS the best place in the world to give birth’. There is some way to go before this ambition is realised. Mums-to-be have a right to trust that both they, and their babies, are in safe hands before, during and after pregnancy.”

At least 100 families are involved in an independent enquiry into potentially avoidable birth injuries and baby deaths at hospitals run by the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (SaTH). The review covers incidents between 2000 – 2017.

Families who believe that they may have suffered an avoidable death or significant birth injury due to medical negligence can contact our friendly team for a confidential chat on 01253 766 559.

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Improvements still needed to avoid birth injuries in Cumbria

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently inspected the hospitals run by The North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust revealing that essential changes are still required in its maternity services.

The Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and a birthing centre at the Penrith Community Hospital, received an overall ‘requires improvement’ rating.

Placed under special measures in July 2013 following the Keogh review, the Trust came out of special measures in March 2017 however, the latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection has revealed further improvements are required in its maternity services.

Published in November 2018, its report identified that 10% of women did not receive one to one care during labour, several of the guidelines and procedures in the Trust’s maternity services were out of date and a review of its drugs management was needed.

The latest findings raise concerns, particularly regarding the continued use of outdated guidelines and procedures in its maternity departments.

Pregnancy and childbirth is a natural and joyous time however, both mother and baby are at their most vulnerable during this period. It is crucial for both to be monitored carefully throughout and for current guidelines and processes to be followed to avoid any risks.

Every woman entering a maternity unit should also be provided with one to one care to eliminate any opportunities for devastating mistakes to take place.

Bringing claims against hospitals across England and Wales, we see the same recurring errors: failings to follow current guidelines; failings to adequately monitor mother and baby and failures to act appropriately and timeously.

As the Trust continues to make improvements, it is essential that the issues highlighted in its maternity services are addressed as a priority.

All too often we talk to families whose lives have been devastated due to medical negligence occurring before, during or just after birth.

A critical time for both mother and baby, small mistakes can lead to significant, and irreversible injuries being sustained.

Our specialist team of leading medical and legal specialists have represented families for more than 20 years following incidents of avoidable catastrophic birth injuries and preventable baby deaths.

We understand that when medical negligence occurs during this vulnerable time, whole families continue to suffer for a lifetime.

Our team has a strong track record of securing £multi-million settlements for families who have been inflicted with both physical and psychological injuries following avoidable mistakes made in maternity units.

Our unique combination of both medical and legal experts means that clients benefit from our extensive specialist expertise under one roof.

Our friendly team offers free confidential advice. If you believe that your family has suffered a birth injury due to avoidable medical errors you can contact us on 01253 766 559.

To read more about the families that we have helped, click here.

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Birth injuries lawyer calls for Cwm Taf maternity services investigations to be widened

Leading birth injuries solicitor Diane Rostron is calling for the Welsh Government and the Cwm Taf University Health Board’s investigations into maternity services delivered at hospitals in Merthyr Tydfil and Llantrisant to be widened.

The recently announced reviews currently only cover baby deaths at the Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan hospitals during the period 2016 to 2018 and come amidst a major overhaul of the Health Boards’ maternity services.

Commenting on the investigations, birth injuries specialist Diane Rostron said: “It is vitally important that these investigations are carried out properly and thoroughly and review not only the potentially avoidable baby deaths at these hospitals, but also reviews the incidents where babies have suffered significant life changing injuries as a result of negligence.

“My team is currently representing a number of families whose babies have been left with major lifelong disabilities due to medical negligence at these hospitals and more South Wales families have been in touch with us since news of the inquiry was announced.

“We will be writing to both the Welsh Government and the chief executive at the Cwm Taf University Health Board to ask that their investigations are widened to a longer period and also include significant birth injuries which could have been avoided.

“We are speaking to at least six families whose children suffered significant birth injuries which took place between 2011 and 2013. We are also aware of another case where a mother lost twins after her ruptured uterus went undiagnosed back in 2009 at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

“We are urging other families in the area to come forward if they have any doubts about how their baby may have been injured or died at these hospitals.

“We have come across a number of discrepancies in the information provided to us when pursuing medical negligence claims against the Cwm Taf University Health Board. I would urge all families who may have been affected but simply told that their baby’s injury or death was a natural occurrence to speak to us.”

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£27m settlement for boy left brain damaged due to negligence at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

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£27m settlement for boy left brain damaged due to negligence at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

A substantial medical negligence sum has been secured this week by Blackpool solicitor Diane Rostron to cover the lifetime care needs of a client left brain damaged following his delayed birth at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

The figure, which includes a £5.7 million lump sum and significant annual payments for the rest of his life, will cover the cost of his care and other needs and was approved at the High Court in London on 9th October 2018.

Commenting on the claim, Blackpool based birth injuries specialist Diane Rostron at Addies Solicitors said: “Our client, and his family, have struggled for many years to cope with his significant care needs following entirely preventable delays during his birth. 

“The hospital failed on multiple counts to provide adequate care. Had the maternity staff involved at the time carried out their duties in a timely, and appropriate manner, our client would have been born perfectly healthy avoiding all injuries.

“The settlement will cover the cost of his significant needs for the rest of his life. Lessons must be learned at the Trust to prevent this from happening to other families who rely on their local hospital to provide a safe level of patient care. We are currently acting for a number of clients significantly injured while in the care of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.”

Diane Rostron, and her team of medical and legal specialists, represented the family of Paul Wilkinson at his inquest in May 2018. The Blackpool Coroner found that the death of the 45-year-old at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in 2017 was due to the Trust’s neglect.

A medical negligence claim against Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is currently being pursued on behalf of his family.

The hospital was last inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in December 2017 and is currently rated as ‘requires improvement’ for safety and responsiveness.

In the last 12 months, Diane Rostron and her team have secured settlements for six severely injured children with an estimated value of £100 million.

If your family has been significantly injured due to medical negligence, contact our friendly team for a confidential chat on 01253 766 559.

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Investigation into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust spans a 19-year period

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Investigation into maternity care at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust spans a 19-year period

The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, responsible for running a number of hospitals and medical services including maternity units at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, is currently under investigation for alleged poor maternity care involving patients dating back nearly two decades.

The denied claims follow an investigation launched in 2017 on the request of Jeremy Hunt involving 23 cases of the deaths of both mothers and babies and included incidents of potentially avoidable brain injuries.

One local mother recalled that, during her 36-hour labour, she had been repeatedly refused a caesarean section however, during the natural birth of her son, his shoulder was trapped and he died just a few hours later due to a lack of oxygen and a Group B Strep infection.

Another of the Trust’s patients has told the media that she had repeatedly told medical staff that her baby’s movements had slowed but she had been reassured that everything was fine. Following a three day stay at the Princess Royal Hospital, she was advised that her daughter’s heartbeat had stopped.

The scale of the issue has been compared to the 2015 independent inquiry into the University Hospital Morecambe Bay Foundation which identified that there had been 11 avoidable baby deaths and also one mother whose death was preventable.

The distressing news will be met with mixed emotions for the families involved and for those who will be due to have their babies at the hospitals until full details are uncovered. It has been reported that two babies and a mother died while under the Trust’s care as recently as December 2017 in two separate incidents.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is carrying out checks at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospitals with the findings yet to be published. The independent regulator currently rates both as ‘requires improvements’ following inspections carried out in 2016.

Our specialist birth injuries team of medical and legal specialists offer more than 20 years’ experience of dealing with incidents of medical negligence resulting in significant avoidable injuries or preventable deaths.

If you believe that your family has been affected by medical negligence at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, contact a member of our friendly team for a confidential chat on 01253 766 559.

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Maternity failings at Furness General Hospital a sore reminder

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Maternity failings at Furness General Hospital a sore reminder

Our team has represented families who have suffered due to medical negligence for more than 20 years.

Supporting injured patients across England and Wales, and fighting for justice following significant errors in maternity units across the country, our clients repeatedly tell us the same thing – they just want those responsible to say ‘sorry’.

An apology can never take away the serious injuries inflicted, nor can showing remorse turn back the clock. Our families want to see accountability and for the medical professionals involved to recognise that their mistakes have caused irreversible damage that will last a lifetime.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) issued an apology in June 2018 following the avoidable deaths of 11 babies and one mother at Furness General Hospital spanning several years.

This was a sore reminder that families continue to suffer and are still to be afforded the basic right of receiving a simple apology demonstrating that the NHS cares.

In the case involving Furness General Hospital, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) found that the NMC had failed to react quickly to the situation with reports from local families and even the Cumbria police allegedly ignored.

The midwives involved in the preventable deaths continued to practice long after concerns were first raised in 2008 following the death of a nine-day-old boy from sepsis.

Only recently was action taken seeing three midwives struck off and another suspended. The hurt and loss suffered for the families involved however, will go on long after justice has been served.

While these practitioners continued to deliver babies, several families were left to come to terms with the fact that the loss of their baby was entirely avoidable – and that no one cared.

Having their serious concerns ignored for several years sent a damaging message that those whose medical expertise they trusted, simply did not acknowledge their failings.

This recent case has been a shocking reminder that maternity care is still significantly falling behind adequate levels in many hospitals across England and Wales.

The pain and hurt caused will never go away for those involved. The lack of empathy that we sadly continue to see following incidents of medical negligence only compounds the injuries already inflicted.

Fighting for compensation for families for more than 20 years, we have sadly become accustomed to hearing that our clients’ concerns were simply ignored by professionals.

Our team of medical and legal specialists are not only committed to securing the maximum compensation needed by injured patients but, more importantly, we really listen when other professionals have failed to do so.

We continue to support our clients long after we have proved that their injuries were preventable. We carry on helping our families long after we have won the compensation that they deserve and need.

We recognise that the significant physical and psychological injuries suffered in our hospitals last a lifetime. We understand that the support needed by victims of medical negligence doesn’t end when the legal case concludes.

We have good relationships with a network of experts from therapists to home adaptation specialists. Our team is committed to giving the families we represent the care package that they need to make life as normal as possible, for as long as is required.

If you, or your family, have been injured before, during, or after childbirth, contact our empathetic team for a free initial consultation on 01253 766 559 or dr@addies.co.uk.

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Jeremy Hunt reveals an increase in NHS payouts for birth injury cases

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Jeremy Hunt reveals an increase in NHS payouts for birth injury cases

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed at a recent medical conference that the NHS spends around £1,000 in insurance for every baby it delivers.

Hunt admitted that at least half of the NHS pot of £65 billion set aside for compensation claims was being spent on maternity cases with 25 babies suffering a birth injury every week and four or five of these having lifelong brain damage as a result.

Labour’s health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth admitted that mistakes are likely to continue happening within our hospitals as NHS staff continue to be overstretched and overworked while the 70-year-old NHS suffers underfunding.

The figures are shocking and highlight that maternity services need a greater focus to reduce birth injury incidents.  The Government announced a commitment to increasing the number of midwives earlier this year but more needs to be done to provide safe maternity services for every mother and baby.

Childbirth is a critical time. While giving birth is the most natural thing in the world, medical errors such as delayed action or not carefully monitoring the baby can lead to lifetime care needs and changed lives for whole families.

Recent reports have stated that the NHS medical negligence bill has increased by 150% compared to 2014 figures. This is a staggering figure and reveals how many families are suffering following avoidable medical errors.

Birth injury cases take the lion’s share of NHS payouts because for those who have suffered the most serious birth injuries including birth asphyxia, birth trauma, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and meningitis, the effects will last a lifetime.

These children, and their families, must learn to live with significant disabilities. For some, simple day-to-day living becomes a challenge. The compensation sought for avoidable birth injuries considers lifetime needs and loss of future earnings for those who are unlikely to be able to ever work due to the injuries suffered.

Essential equipment, therapies and care costs to last a lifetime, cannot be afforded without compensation. The NHS continues to be stretched and until this is rectified with adequate funding, training and appropriate levels and quality of staff, birth injury incidents will sadly continue.

If you believe that your family has suffered a significant injury due to medical negligence, contact our friendly team on 01253 766 559.

 

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NHS to offer 3,000 more midwifery training places to boost patient safety

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NHS to offer 3,000 more midwifery training places to boost patient safety

More than 3,000 additional places will be offered on midwifery training courses in England over the next four years as part of government plans to boost staff numbers and increase patient safety.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the move, which is equal to a 25% increase in the number of training places. Mr Hunt said this was part of “the largest ever investment in midwifery training” and comes alongside an “incredibly well deserved pay rise for current midwives”.

The plans will see an additional 650 training places created next year, then a further 1000 a year for the following three years. The role of Maternity Support Workers (MSW) will also be professionalised, including the introduction of a national competency framework and voluntary accredited register.

A key goal of the increase in midwife training places is to ensure that mothers can be seen by the same midwife throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth. Mr Hunt announced that the majority of women should be receiving this ‘continuity of carer’ model by 2021, with the interim goal of 20% of women benefiting from the model by March 2019.

Making sure women have the same care team throughout all stages of their pregnancy and birth should have a marked impact on patient safety. Research suggests there are several clear benefits for mothers from continuity of care, including:

·      19% less chance of a miscarriage

·      16% less likelihood of losing their baby

·      24% less change of premature birth

Ensuring continuity of care is therefore intended to be an important step towards Mr Hunt’s ambition to cut by half the number of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries that occur during or soon after birth by 2025.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) welcomed the announcement, but called it “very long overdue” with RCM chief executive Gill Walton drawing attention to her organisation’s history of campaigning on the issue of midwife shortages for over a decade.

Ms Gill said: “The priority for all maternity services is ensuring every woman has a named midwife during pregnancy and one-to-one care in labour. This is what maternity services are currently struggling to provide universally and consistently and this is why the new staff will be so crucial.”

However, Ms Gill claimed that training more midwives was only half of the solution as it was also vital to ensure that the newly qualified midwives would be able to secure jobs within the NHS. She highlighted the issue of funding, stating: “Trusts are going to need an increase in the money they get so they can employ the new midwives.”

Hopefully, this boost to training places, combined with the 6.5% pay increase offered to midwives (along with more than one million other NHS staff) will lead to a significant increase in midwife numbers over the next few years. This should then have a positive impact on patient safety, leading to a decrease in infant mortality and birth injuries to both babies and their mothers.

If you or your child were injured during childbirth due to errors in your care, you may be entitled to birth injury compensation. Our highly experienced birth injuries solicitors can offer you all of the support you need to claim compensation and ensure the best outcome for you and your family.

To discuss your case, please call 01253 766 559 or email dr@addies.co.uk.

Please be assured that any information you share with us will be treated with the strictest confidence.

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Government's midwife pledge falls short, warns birth injury and trauma expert

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Government's midwife pledge falls short, warns birth injury and trauma expert

Jeremy Hunt has announced plans to train an extra 3000 midwives over the next four years. But is it really enough?

Government plans to train thousands of extra midwives is still not enough to fully protect women and babies during labour, it is being claimed.

The health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, recently announced moves to train more than 3000 extra midwives over the next four years.

He has also unveiled plans for women to have access to the same midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and birth.

But while the move has been welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the organisation has also expressed concern that it will take until 2022 before all the new trainees are fully qualified.

And there is concern that the pledge for women to have a dedicated midwife is “too ambitious”.

Responding to the government announcement, Gill Walton, chief executive and general secretary of the RCM, warned: “It will not transform maternity services right now.

“It will take seven or eight years before all of the new midwives announced will be actually working in our maternity services.”

Now her concerns have been echoed by a leading medical negligence solicitor who specialises in birth injury and trauma.

Diane Rostron, who has seen first-hand the consequences of substandard maternity services, said: “The NHS’ commitment to increasing the number of trained midwives by 25 per cent is good news. However, much more needs to be done to ensure that all women receive the appropriate level of medical care during pregnancy and birth.

“In my 20-plus year career of representing families who have suffered significant, and avoidable, physical and psychological birth injuries or trauma , I have found that the errors made have not been due to a lack of midwives." 

"My clients, and their families, have suffered due to medical staff failing to appropriately monitor the foetus during labour and birth for example, or failing to respond appropriately or in a timely fashion, leading to preventable severe injuries or even baby deaths.”

The pledge to provide the majority of women with care from the same midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and birth by 2021 was also described as “ambitious” by the RCM leader.

She said: “The priority for all maternity services is ensuring that every woman has a named midwife during pregnancy and one-to-one care in labour. This is what maternity services are currently struggling to provide universally and consistently and this is why the new staff will be so crucial.

“When services are confident of this then they can move on to greater continuity of care for women,” she added.

Diane Rostron, who leads a team of birth injury specialists, said: “Providing enough midwives so that women have continuous care throughout their pregnancy and birth will make a big difference to many.

“Ensuring continuous training and support for all midwives to limit incidence of avoidable conditions such as cerebral palsy and other birth injuries is also needed.”

If you believe that your family has suffered a serious injury due to medical negligence, contact our friendly team on 01253 766 559.


 

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Recognising the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

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Recognising the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

 March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. This non-progressive condition affects a lot of families in the UK, and worldwide, and impacts the whole family.

No two people experience cerebral palsy in the same way. Some cannot walk while others can run, some may be able to talk for England, others will find communicating difficult.

Each affected individual will face their own unique challenges. CP occurs when the brain suffers an injury before, during or soon after birth interfering with the messages between the brain and the body making movement and muscle co-ordination difficult.

Recognising the symptoms of cerebral palsy isn’t always obvious until a child reaches the age of two or three and may include some of the following symptoms:

·         Missing developmental milestones

·         Body is too stiff / too floppy

·         Weak arms or legs

·         Fidgety or clumsy

·         Random, uncontrollable movements

·         Walking on tiptoes

·         Problems with speech, vision or learning

The time before, during and shortly after birth is critical. If mother and baby are not carefully monitored during this time, cerebral palsy can occur if the baby’s brain suffers a bleed or deprivation of oxygen, if an infection is caught during pregnancy and is not appropriately treated, and if meningitis or a serious head injury is suffered during this sensitive period.

A small number of CP cases are caused by avoidable medical negligence. This can happen if one of the following medical errors take place:

·         Giving the wrong medication

·         Inadequate monitoring of the baby

·         No response or non-timely response to changes in foetal statistics or signs of distress

·         Failure to carry out appropriate tests

·         Deprivation of oxygen

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition with no cure and we understand that living with CP has an impact on the whole family. We specialise in working with families affected by CP and understand the impact that this has both now, and in the future.

We understand the specialist needs from finding and funding the right therapies, to buying the right equipment and making necessary home adaptations to make life easier.

Compensation can be sought if your child’s CP has been caused as a result of avoidable medical negligence. We have a strong track record of securing significant settlements to help families living with cerebral palsy get the support they need and cover the costs of the following:

·         Future medical care

·         Therapies including speech, language, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy

·         Home adaptations

·         Equipment such as sensory equipment or wheelchairs

·         Carers and other special arrangements

If you believe that your child has cerebral palsy due to avoidable medical negligence, contact a member of our specialist cerebral palsy medical negligence team for a free initial consultation on 01253 766 559.

Read more about the families that we have helped here.

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Time to open up about traumatic births, says Blackpool lawyer

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Time to open up about traumatic births, says Blackpool lawyer

Opening up about traumatic childbirth breaks the taboo, helps heal emotional wounds, and lets people know they are not alone.

That’s according to a Blackpool medical negligence solicitor who has praised tennis star Serena Williams for talking about her experiences. “Raising awareness both among professionals and the general public, helps to reduce risk,” said Diane Rostron.

“Women who have suffered traumatic deliveries often feel very alone. Simply knowing they are not the only person who has been through such an experience can be very helpful.” In an interview with Vogue, Williams said she had undergone a series of operations following the birth of her daughter, who was delivered by emergency caesarean section.

The 36-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam champion was in hospital for more than a week, after blood clots in her lungs led to a coughing fit that reopened her C-section wound. “Sometimes I get really down and feel like, man, I can’t do this,” she told the fashion magazine. "I’ve broken down I don’t know how many times. Or I’ll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty, like, ‘Why do I feel so sad when I have a beautiful baby?’ The emotions are insane.”

Diane said this kind of thinking was quite common, and that breaking the taboo was key to helping women realising they are not alone. Knowing what to expect also helps, which is another reason people should speak about their experiences. “Minor degrees of trauma to the baby and to mum are actually quite common,” said Diane, adding this might include cuts and bruises, and forceps and ventouse marks to the baby, or cuts and bruises to the perineum in women.

“Many babies recover without any lasting problems. Some who lose a lot of blood become anaemic and may require blood transfusions.” Serious birth trauma, however, is rare, and the risk can be minimized, she went on. “The risk of it can be minimized by mums making sure that they attend antenatal appointments and when they go into labour, seeking advice early. “Never feel intimidated about asking midwives and obstetricians for advice.”

According to the charity the Birth Trauma Association, traumatic births can lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can lead to the persistent re-experiencing of the event, through memories, flashbacks and/or nightmares, as well as difficulties sleeping or concentrating. Sufferers may also feel angry, irritable, jumpy or ‘on their guard’ all the time.

“It is important to remember that PTSD is a normal response to a traumatic experience. The re-experiencing of the event with flashbacks accompanied by genuine anxiety and fear are beyond the sufferer's control. “They are the mind's way of trying to make sense of an extremely scary experience and are not a sign individual 'weakness' or inability to cope,” said the charity.

Diane agreed, and said anyone worried that mistakes were made during the birth of their child should seek professional advice and complain to the hospital “Mistakes do sometimes happen, especially when maternity units were understaffed. “Try to find out exactly what happened and put together a diary of events as they unfolded,” she said. 

If your family has suffered a significant injury as a result of medical negligence, contact our friendly team on 01253 766 559.

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Coroners to investigate stillbirths – what this means for birth safety

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Coroners to investigate stillbirths – what this means for birth safety

In November 2017, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced plans for a new maternity strategy aimed at reducing the number of stillbirths in the UK. A key part of this plan is offering an independent investigation to families who suffer a stillbirth or life changing birth injury to their child to find out what went wrong. This is intended to help identify if mistakes were made before, during or immediately after the birth.

There have long been calls for it to be made a legal requirement for the deaths of stillborn babies to be referred to coroners. While some coroners do request that they be informed of all stillbirths, this was not enforceable or universally the case. With the UK having one of the worst rates of still birth in the western world (currently 4.5 per 1000 births) being able to investigate the circumstances surrounding these deaths is essential to help identify where mistakes are being made and improve birth safety.

 The Chief Coroner, Judge Mark Lucraft QC, had previously highlighted the issue that doctors are not legally required to report deaths to a coroner in his 2017 annual report to the Lord Chancellor. This means that opportunities are potentially being missed to learn from mistakes that were made by medical staff during a pregnancy or birth that resulted in the baby’s death.

 Under the new plans, any family who experiences a stillbirth, early neonatal death or severe brain injury will be referred to the new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, who will look into the circumstances surrounding the death or injury. Additionally, full-term stillbirths will now routinely be investigated by coroners.

 The aim of this new strategy is to ensure that where mistakes are being made in the care pregnant women and their babies receive before, during and after a birth, the reasons are identified so lessons can be learned.

 Mr Hunt said: “Countless mothers and fathers who have suffered like this say that the most important outcome for them is making sure lessons are learnt so that no-one else has to endure the same heartbreak. These important changes will help us to make ‎that promise in the future.”

 The Department of Health and Social Care also announced that it is bringing forward the date by which it intends to halve rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths, and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth from 2030 to 2025.

 It has to be hoped that, by standardising practices around referring stillbirths to coroners and giving families the option to have their child’s death or birth injury independently investigated, the number of stillbirths and birth injuries can be dramatically decreased while giving families some degree of comfort and closure.

These changes to how stillbirths and birth injuries are handled should also make is easier for families to claim compensation where appropriate by making it faster and easier to identify where medical mistakes were to blame for what happened. This should be of particular relevance to parents whose child has been left with a serious birth injury as compensation can make a significant difference to their child’s ability to live an independent, happy and fulfilling life.

If your family has suffered a significant injury due to medical negligence, contact our friendly team on 01253 766 559.

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'I could never imagine ever feeling happy again'

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'I could never imagine ever feeling happy again'

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Our client and brave mum Alison shared her story with Blackpool Gazette this week, read her story below:

“It was the darkest time of our life. I could never imagine ever feeling happy again.” Alison Baker and partner Chad Battersby, a tree surgeon with his own business, were thrilled when they discovered they were expecting a baby together and were full of excitement at the prospect of parenthood. Alison, 32, a family lawyer, recalls: “Macy was planned and we got pregnant very quickly and I remember being super excited about it all. “It was a pretty straightforward pregnancy and everything went smoothly.”

The couple, who live in Cleveleys, were told at a scan that Alison had a low lying placenta but that it was quite common and nothing to worry about. Alison had a couple of bleeds and medics decided to deliver her baby by emergency Caesarean Section at 33 weeks and two days.

Macy Wren Battersby was born on April 15 2015 at 4.44am and to her parents’ utter devastation and disbelief, she died just one hour and 46 minutes later at 6.30am. Her eyes filling with tears at the bleak memory, Alison says: “She was a perfectly well baby. There was no indication anything was wrong.

“It was totally heartbreaking for both of us.” Numb with grief, Alison describes how she struggled to cope and was gripped with anxiety and a whirlwind of emotions. Alison explains: “I had never been through anything so traumatic before. “I really tried my best to hold myself together in public but when I got home, I would sob and sob and sob.

“It was horrible. I did not realise I could cry like that. “I also felt anger. I hated my own body and was angry at it and blamed my body and felt I was a failure. “You feel like you have failed at something everybody else seems to do so easily. “You are constantly thinking: ‘What if?’ and want to turn back time and do things differently. “Even though there is nothing I could have done differently, I kept thinking if I had the benefit of hindsight there might have been or I would think: ‘What if she was delivered a day early?’

“For quite a while afterwards, I could never imagine ever feeling happy again or laughing or smiling again. “I remember thinking: ‘I wish someone would tell me when I will feel better.’

“I did not really want to see anyone apart from immediate family as I found it too nerve-wracking as I did not feel able to talk about it. “I developed anxiety and would feel panicked if I was going from one place to another. “It was difficult for both myself and Chad. We were both grieving. “We supported each other and that brought us closer. There is no one else in the world I shared that with.”

Alison admits that while she was going through that dark time, she found it difficult seeing women who were pregnant. Alison says: “I did not like to see anyone pregnant or with a newborn as I felt envious of them. “But as well as feeling envious of them, I felt frightened for them as I did not want the same thing to happen to them and I knew things could go wrong.”

Alison and Chad saw a counsellor for a while to help with their grief and Alison remembers her telling them: ‘You will either sleep too much or not at all.’ Alison says: “We both slept heavily. I wanted each day to go quickly and I did not want to be awake and thinking about it. “But the next morning, I would wake up and remember it all again.” Alison recalls feeling like she really wanted a baby and felt ready to be a mum. But she says: “I wanted Macy. I did not want another baby. “It took us a few months to get our heads around this.”

Alison says she eventually reached a point where she could contemplate trying for another baby. Alison explains: “I realised I could not change things and bring Macy back, but I could change not having children at all. “We had lots of tests to see if it was anything genetic that had caused Macy’s death. When it was confirmed it was not anything genetic, we decided we would like to try again.” Alison recalls how getting pregnant was then constantly on her mind and she became anxious as this time it seemed to take longer.

The couple discovered Alison was pregnant two weeks before Macy’s first birthday. Alison remembers: “It was very bittersweet. It felt very scary and I did not dare imagine we would end up having a baby. “People would tell me to try and enjoy the pregnancy. But I could not enjoy it as I did not want to lose another baby. “I felt very anxious and nervous and was panicking every day. “If you dared let yourself get excited, you would chastise yourself. It is like you are letting yourself in for another fall. “I was very careful during my first pregnancy and was the same again and did nothing to risk the baby.”

Laughing ruefully, Alison adds: “I should have been paying rent to the hospital as I was in there once or twice a week and all the midwives knew me. “They monitored me more regularly and I had a lot of scans. “They tried to put me at ease but I knew anything could happen and did not take anything for granted. “Every appointment, I was a bag of nerves.”

Pippa Autumn Battersby was born on November 15 2016 by planned Caesarean Section as Alison did not want to take any risks. Alison recalls: “Pippa was born weighing 5lbs 12oz and was healthy and well. “Her birth was very emotional. “When Pippa was born and I heard her crying, I remember shouting: ‘Give her to me!’ like a nutter. “As soon as they did, I felt better because I did not get to do that with Macy. “I was so happy but I remember saying to Chad: ‘Why could this not have happened the first time so Pippa could have a big sister and we would have both of them now?’ “Throughout my pregnancy with Pippa, I felt guilty for Macy as I knew we would potentially have a baby who would have everything in life Macy was supposed to have. “Some people think that when you have another baby, it will replace the baby you lost. “But that is not the case. You can never replace the baby you lost.

“I still think about Macy every day and we will never forget her.” Alison‘s advice to anyone going through the same thing is to voice their fears to health professionals and not to feel like there is a stigma. She says: “I never used to go to the doctors before this happened and I used to be conscious of wasting people’s time. “But if you have been through something like this, there is no one more deserving of the service so don’t be afraid to use it.”

Pippa will be celebrating her first birthday this week and Alison says she has brought so much joy into their lives. She says: “Pippa is brilliant and has given us our life back. “I thought I would never be happy again but she has brought happiness back into our life. “We love Pippa so much but we also love Macy and will never forget her.

“When you lose a baby, people are scared to speak to you about it as they don’t want to upset you. “But one of the nicest things people can do is remind you that they remember her. “One of the biggest fears is that people will forget her but we will never forget Macy. “My advice to anyone who has friends this has happened to is to not fear reminding them that you remember their baby.

“It is like a little gift when you remember.” 

If your family has suffered a significant injury due to medical negligence, contact our friendly team on 01253 766 559.

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Grandmother awarded compensation for suffering PTSD after watching daughter give birth

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Grandmother awarded compensation for suffering PTSD after watching daughter give birth

My client's six year fight for justice.

As reported by Henry Bodkin in The Sunday Telegraph, please see below:

NHS hospitals face paying millions in compensation to family members whose loved-ones undergo botched medical procedures after a grandmother successfully claimed for suffering PTSD following the birth of her granddaughter.

Experts say the High Court ruling “turns the tide” in favour of family members claiming compensation in cases of medical negligence.

Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust were ordered to make the pay-out after a chaotic delivery which left the new-born with permanent neurological damage.

The unnamed baby, which came out “flat and purple with a swollen head”, did not start breathing for 12 minutes – her mother and grandmother believed she was dead.

Until now, family members traumatised from witnessing negligent medical procedures or their aftermath have found it extremely difficult to successfully claim damages. 

While patients groups have welcomed the new ruling, it could mean health bosses, wary of large legal bills, start limiting the number of relatives present during hospital procedures.

Nigel Poole QC, head of King’s Chambers and a medical negligence specialist, said: “I would not underestimate the importance of this decision.

“There are potentially a lot of people who could bring a claim like this.”

The High Court found the midwives at Calderdale Birthing Unit did not properly anticipate the risk of delivering a 10lbs baby.

The girl suffered an acute profound hypoxic ischaemic insult as a result of an unnecessary 11-minute delay in delivery in April 2011.

Mr Justice Goss also found the midwives had deliberately prevented a specialist obstetrician from entering the room during a crucial stage in the emergency, and that the hospital subsequently destroyed medical records after the legal action had begun.

The mother had raised concerns about the size of her baby during antenatal appointments, but the “offhand” midwives had told her “big babies just slip out”.

In the event, the girl’s shoulder became jammed behind her mother’s pelvic bone.

Historically, courts have been very reluctant to award damages to family members who witness traumatic scenes in hospital on the basis that it would open the floodgates to thousands of claims, and  that relatives should expect a degree of unpleasantness when they go to hospital.

However, Mr Justice Goss found that watching a complicated birth which resulted the appearance of a stillborn baby was “sufficiently horrifying” for both mother and grandmother to claim for PTSD.

Suzanne White, a medical negligence expert at Leigh Day, said that hospital chief executives normally try their best to settle these types of case behind closed doors because they want to avoid setting a precedent.

“This ruling puts the cat among the pigeons,” she said. “The NHS don’t like this kind of case because there could be a huge number of them.”

Rolf Dalhaug, of the campaign group 17 Dads, had to fight for compensation for his PTSD when one of his twins, Thor, lost his life during a delivery using forceps at Lincoln County Hospital in 2013.

Last night he welcomed the new ruling recognising the effect medical negligence can have on close family.

“The NHS don’t recognise it at all, I think it’s something they choose to actively supress,” he said. “I think this ruling is massively important and will have a big effect going forward.”

Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has said it will appeal against the decision.

Line from trust: "The trust recognise and regret that a number of lives have been adversely affected by the events of this case."

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