Press release

13 July 2016

Decrease in number of stillbirths – expert comment

Commenting on news from the Office of National Statistics that the number of stillbirths in England and Wales fell by 3.3 per cent in 2015, Sophie Fox a medical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW said:

“While the small fall in stillbirths is encouraging, in terms of the overall numbers there are still far too many babies dying unnecessarily. I am currently representing numerous couples whose lives have been completely devastated by a stillbirth where there is strong evidence it was caused by poor care. In some cases maternity services have admitted that their errors caused the baby to die, but it took legal action for them to do so.

“In England the stillbirth rate in 2015 was 4.4 per cent per 1,000 births which is still much too high. Lessons need to be learned from every case so that the same mistakes are not continually repeated.”

Info from ONS press release:

The number of stillbirths in England and Wales fell by 3.3% to 3,147 in 2015, from 3,254 in 2014. The stillbirth rate takes into account the total number of births (live and stillbirths), so provides a more accurate indication of trends than just analysing the number of stillbirths over time. In 2015, the stillbirth rate for England and Wales fell to 4.5 per 1,000 total births; the lowest rate since 1992 when it was 4.3. 1. In England, the stillbirth rate in 2015 was 4.4 per 1,000 total births, down from 4.6 in 2014. There has been a general downward trend in the stillbirth rate since 2005 with a decrease of 18.5% over the last 10 years (Figure 3).2. In Wales, the stillbirth rate in 2015 was 4.7 per 1,000 total births, down from 5.2 in 2014. Due to the small number of stillbirths in Wales, the stillbirth rate is more prone to random fluctuations.

JMW Case study

Parents left devastated after hospital U-turn on a C-section leads to stillbirth of their baby son
Parents of a baby boy who suffocated during labour leading to his death have spoken of their pain and anguish.

Hayley Powsney went into labour and was admitted to North Manchester General Hospital in February 2014 where Hayley and her husband Adam were told that their baby boy, Joshua, was breach. The maternity staff advised the couple that it would be best for Hayley to have a C-section but whilst they waited on the labour ward there was a change of shift and a new consultant recommended a natural birth without fully informing them of the risks involved. Sadly during the labour Joshua’s heart rate was not monitored correctly towards the end of the delivery process and he suffocated and was stillborn.

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which is responsible for the hospital, has admitted that if Hayley had been given a C-section as the couple requested and his heart rate monitored correctly Joshua would have been born alive.

Hayley and Adam Powsney, who live in Bury now are keen to raise the issues of stillbirths to stop what sadly happened to them happening to other families. Commenting Adam Powsney said:“I cannot put into words the anger and upset I feel at the advice we were given that led us to believe that a natural labour would have been safer for Hayley and Joshua instead of a C-section. Our initial instincts to have a C-section when we found out Joshua was breach were ignored and they turned out to be right. We will never recover from knowing that a C-section would have saved Joshua’s life. The amount of stress and anxiety this ordeal has caused me and Hayley and both of our families are indescribable and the hospital and Trust need to acknowledge that treating people in this way breaks people’s hearts.”

Sophie Fox, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW, is representing Hayley and Adam in their battle for justice. Sophie commented: “This is a particularly tragic case were the incorrect clinical decisions that were made for Hayley and her baby very sadly led to him being born stillborn. Doctors did not properly consent for Hayley to have a natural labour and also failed to monitor his heart rate during the last stages of the delivery process. These two factors meant Joshua suffocated and both Adam and Hayley have to now live with this heart break for the rest of their lives. We hope this investigation will help them both find closure from this tragic event.”

Hayley and Adam went on to have a baby girl named Edie in February 2015 at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester via C-section, which went well.

Adam added: “Its heart breaking to know that we placed our trust in the medical professionals and this trust on this occasion was tragically misplaced. Our loss has affected us differently but we both feel angry, hurt and frustrated. We have channelled our anger into our legal case and we are pleased that the Trust has admitted liability. We now want to raise awareness of these issues regarding stillbirths so that we hope other families won’t have to cope with a devastating loss like us.”

The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust commissioned a review into maternity deaths at its hospitals which was published in April 2015 but Joshua was not included in their investigations which both Hayley and Adam are very angry about.

Hayley and Adam Powsney are now involved with Lancet Ending Preventable Stillbirth series which launched on 19 January.


For more information:
Kelly Hindle:

D. 0161 828 1868


Samantha Meakin:

D: 0161 828 1981


Note to Editors

JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones. For more than a decade he and his team have advised and represented thousands of victims of clinical negligence, and their relatives, and have obtained over £100 million in compensation for their clients, as well as providing the answers as to why their medical treatment has gone wrong.

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