NHS admits negligence of maternity staff caused stillbirth


A couple have been left devastated by the stillbirth of their baby boy after maternity staff failed to act on test results and symptoms that showed the mother had an infection and sent her home without antibiotics.

An agency doctor, who was supplied to St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester by a private company, as well as a team of midwives, made serious errors in the treatment of Lekha James, who had a urinary tract infection. Mrs James was 38 weeks pregnant and the infection posed a significant risk to the unborn child.

Mrs James developed septicaemia three days later and was rushed to hospital in a serious condition. While she was stabilised, her longed-for baby son died in the womb and was delivered stillborn.

The admission of failure

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted that the failure to diagnose and treat Mrs James’ infection caused baby Aidan’s death. The trust has accepted that a course of antibiotics would have avoided the death of their baby. It has since written to Mrs James to apologise for the fatal error.

Specialist solicitors at law firm JMW, helped Lekha and her husband Santhosh Mathew to challenge the appalling care provided by the doctor and midwives. She said there had been a catalogue of errors in the way Mrs James was treated when she first attended hospital on 24 March 2012 with pain in her stomach, abdomen and hips.

The solicitor who dealt with the case commented: “The doctor, and also the midwives who dealt with Mrs James that day, made catastrophic failures in care that ultimately led to the death of her baby son. What is concerning is that while the trust has recommended that the agency that employs the doctor addresses these failures with him, Mrs James and her family have no way of knowing whether this has been done.

"While we are pleased to secure this admission of negligence, Mr and Mrs James need assurances that every possible step will be taken to ensure no other parents have to live through the same distressing ordeal.

“It is also absolutely appalling that following the stillbirth the trust carried out its own investigation into the circumstances, yet did not tell Mrs James and her husband, or share the findings with them, as these were critical of the care provided by the doctor and the midwives involved. Clearly, there were concerns at the time that something had gone wrong, but this only came to light as part of the legal process after I investigated the circumstances of the stillbirth.”

The lasting impact

Mrs James (34) lives in Manchester with her husband Santosh Mathew, their daughter Tia (six) and new baby son Aiden. She commented: “I am a nurse myself and instinctively felt that something was wrong when I first attended hospital in pain. I thought that I had a urinary tract infection, but no one was listening to me. I did not want to leave the hospital, but I felt I was not being given a choice.

“When I returned to the hospital a second time, I was seriously ill and I now know that I almost died because the infection had become so severe. We then discovered that our baby’s heart had stopped beating as a consequence of the infection. We made a complaint to the hospital and received a response, but later discovered that the hospital had done a full investigation and prepared a report but had not told us.

“We had been trying for a baby for some time when I became pregnant, and our precious baby son was much longed for. We will never fully get over our loss, but we are desperate to try and ensure that lessons are learned from our case so that hopefully we can prevent other parents from going through the same ordeal.”

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