Parents of baby who died after failures at Royal Derby Hospital react to CQC inadequate rating

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Parents of baby who died after failures at Royal Derby Hospital react to CQC inadequate rating

The parents of a baby boy, who died last year at the Royal Derby Hospital after mistakes were made with his care, say they are heartbroken that the lessons have not been learned following the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) ‘inadequate’ rating of maternity services.

Hannah and Tim Taylor-Smith, whose son Zachary lived only for a few hours, say they were assured action would be taken to prevent the failures being repeated for other babies, after a Royal Derby hospital investigation revealed staff failed to follow local and national guidelines.

Hannah, 33, of Lichfield, said: “Reading the CQC report was completely devastating. The investigation was done 10 months after Zachary died and we had been told changes would be made. However, a key finding of the CQC report is that guidelines are still not being followed. It beggars belief that this has continued when a baby died and a whole family have been left shattered. 

“The CQC report also highlights other issues with care that reflect the concerns we have about Zachary’s treatment, including staffing levels and the culture at the hospital. As parents we felt we were not listened to when we raised these concerns. A few minutes later Zachary had stopped breathing and turned blue, which shows just how dangerous this attitude to parents can be. 

“We, and all other families who have been affected, need the CQC report to lead real change at the hospital. We need the reassurance that the same thing will not happen to another family.”

Nicola Wainwright, a partner at JMW Solicitors specialising in maternity failures, is helping Hannah and Tim to take legal action, and is supporting them with an inquest that is set to take place into Zachary’s death in March 2024. She said: “This has to be a watershed moment that will make the hospital’s maternity services safer.  

“Whilst I welcome the CQC report, what matters now is that there is real change as a result. The family have serious concerns about aspects of Zachary’s care, which we are hoping will be fully investigated by the coroner. However, even though the inquest has not yet taken place, those concerns were investigated by the trust before the CQC inspection. Not only that, prior to Zachary’s birth the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) had carried out an investigation into maternal deaths and injuries at the trust as far back as 2021/2022. That report, published in February 2023, also identified concerns, including midwifery staffing levels, but lessons were obviously not learned.”

Baby Zachary was born on 17th November 2022 at 36 weeks, after Hannah was induced early due to recurrent asthma attacks. He was originally in a good condition but shortly after his birth showed signs of being unwell, including a low temperature, grunting and poor feeding. Despite this, Zachary was not observed properly and not escalated to the neonatal team. It also transpired that Hannah was not given antibiotics during labour, as she ought to have been, due to Zachary’s prematurity and his post mortem revealed that he was infected by Group Step B bacteria. When Zachary collapsed, there was a delay in summoning specialist neonatal doctors, which hindered his resuscitation.

Hospital internal investigation and HSIB reports available on request.

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