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24 August 2020
Hospital apologises to parents of twin baby who died following failures in care
The parents of a twin baby girl, who died after being left with midwives who had never delivered twins before, have called for lessons to be learned from the tragedy after the hospital apologised for failures in her care.
Nicky and Colin Baines, of Hale, say nothing can ever fully heal the pain of losing baby Eleanor in such horrendous circumstances, but they hope that by highlighting the poor standard of care they can make twin deliveries safer for other families.
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for Wythenshawe Hospital, where Eleanor and Lucas were born on 15 September 2016, has now written to Nicky and Colin to apologise for mistakes made during their birth. Chief executive officer Karen Connolly offered her ‘heartfelt apologies and condolences’ in the letter. The trust has also paid a five figure compensation settlement to the couple, however no amount of money could ever make up for Eleanor’s loss and Nicky, a brand consultant, and Colin, a chartered accountant, are only concerned that lessons are learned.
The trust letter states that the midwives Nicky was left with when she went into labour unexpectedly at 36 weeks did not monitor Eleanor after Lucas was born and did not urgently call for a doctor when they could not find her heart rate*. The trust had already admitted in January 2020 that this was negligent.
When a doctor did eventually arrive and realised the grave danger Eleanor was in, Nicky was rushed for an emergency caesarean. Eleanor was born in a very poor condition and had to be resuscitated. She was transferred to neonatal intensive care at St Mary’s Hospital but never managed to breathe independently and six days after her birth Nicky and Colin were advised to remove her life support.
The letter from the trust goes on to claim that even without the errors that were made Eleanor would have died. However this was disputed by Nicky and Colin’s specialist clinical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW, Jodie Miller, whose investigation found she would have survived.
Nicky and Colin, who as well as Eleanor’s twin Lucas, three, have children Imogen, six, and Finley, two, are fearful that other babies could die if trusts do not ensure that guidelines for the management of multiple births are always followed.
Nicky, 40, commented: “Colin was away when I went into labour at 36 weeks but I’d been in contact with the hospital to explain things were happening and I was expecting twins. Suddenly things progressed very quickly, resulting in me having to go to hospital by ambulance. I was 9cm dilated when I arrived and having been under consultant-led care throughout the pregnancy, I had expected there to be a doctor there to manage things. This wasn’t the case and there seemed to be a lot of confusion with the midwives who were asking things I thought they should already know about the pregnancy. It’s clear to us now that they were out of their depth and we want to highlight that this happened in a high-risk twin delivery so that we can hopefully ensure other families receive a better standard of care than we did.
“At the time it felt like the hospital was passing the blame back to me with doctors telling me the next day that I wouldn’t keep still to be monitored and that I delayed the C-section by asking to speak to my parents.
“The loss of Eleanor has had a lasting impact on our entire family as we struggle to come to terms with what we believe to be an avoidable tragedy. Our experience has opened our eyes to truly worrying statistics in the UK around standards of care during labour, and so many deaths that could have been prevented. We need to do better, and this can only happen if staff start to be more open and honest about their mistakes and are willing to learn from them.”
Jodie Miller, a solicitor specialising in medical negligence at law firm JMW, who is representing Nicky and Colin, commented: “The standard of care provided to Nicky and the twins during the labour was appalling. To be left with midwives who were not experienced in twin deliveries, which are complicated and high-risk, would be any woman’s worst nightmare. Twin deliveries require careful monitoring as there is more scope for problems to arise than with a single pregnancy yet there was a clear lack of recognition of that in this case.
“Maternity guidelines exist for a reason, to keep mothers and babies safe, but these were not always followed. This desperately sad case serves as reminder of why it is crucial all maternity staff are fully trained and competent in following of safety procedures.
“Aside from the admitted failings, there were numerous other issues that occurred that contributed to this traumatic and life-changing episode and unfortunately Nicky and Colin do not feel they were taken seriously enough by the hospital. This led to them taking the step of taking legal action in the first place.”
Notes to editors:
*Letter of apology available on request
For more information:
D. 0161 828 1868
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.