Bereaved mum wins compensation after tragic death of son at birth

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: DEVASTATED: April Hall who has won compensation after her son, Ethan, died at birth at Bradford Royal Infirmary DEVASTATED: April Hall who has won compensation after her son, Ethan, died at birth at Bradford Royal Infirmary

A MOTHER who suffered a stillbirth has won a compensation payout after Bradford hospital bosses admitted nursing staff missed vital signs her baby's heartbeat was slowing during labour, it was revealed today.

April Hall is now calling for closer monitoring of women and babies at birth in the hope it could help prevent other families experiencing the same loss.

The case has also been reported to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The 24-year-old was desperate to be a mother when her first child, Ethan, was born - but he never took a breath, leaving her and her family bereft.

"Ethan was a much wanted baby," said Miss Hall.

"Ethan was like a surprise and myself and my whole family was excited and for him to be taken away from us is just absolutely devastating. It's hard to put into words just how much it actually hurts."

Bradford Royal Infirmary chiefs initially carried out an internal investigation into the labour, which it said was thorough and showed staff did everything that was expected of them - but Miss Hall, of Fagley, was not satisfied and sought legal advice.

The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs BRI, has since admitted "on the balance of probability" that it was likely a slowing of Ethan's heartbeat - bradycardia - was missed during the birth on June 1, 2011. The condition can prompt medical intervention for a quicker delivery.

In agreeing to pay compensation, the Trust has also admitted that Ethan would likely have survived if he had been born and resuscitated 15 minutes earlier.

Miss Hall, whose father was with her during the labour, had a normal pregnancy which she said made her son's death more shocking.

"I actually looked down and I just turned to my dad and screamed and said why isn't he breathing, why isn't he moving?," she said.

Midwives tried to resuscitate Ethan and an emergency neonatal team was called, but he was pronounced dead 20 minutes after he was born.

Miss Hall said: "I was in pieces - I just wanted to be able to hold my newborn son.

"It breaks my heart to know that if Ethan’s slow heart rate had been detected during my labour, the midwives could have delivered him quickly and I would have him here with me now."

Miss Hall, who now has a nine-week-old son and two-year-old daughter - born at Leeds General Infirmary, has been awarded an undisclosed compensation sum. But she said the legal battle was not about money, but answers.

"Nothing could bring Ethan back or begin to make up for what happened but knowing that everything possible has been done to prevent another baby from dying might mean we can finally lay him to rest and try to begin the long process of rebuilding our lives," she said.

Miss Hall and her father will use the money to pay for treatment of depression and severe anxiety.

Margaret Ryan, of law firm Irwin Mitchell who handled the case, backed Miss Hall's call for improvements, including more midwife training and constant foetal heartbeat monitoring.

"We have assisted her reporting the substandard care to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and we hope that its investigation will highlight the hospital's failings and ensure appropriate measures are put in place to stop this happening again."

Chief Nurse Juliette Greenwood, for the Foundation Trust, said: “We would like to reiterate our sincere condolences to Miss Hall on the tragic loss of her son, Ethan.

"The Foundation Trust takes the safety of its patients very seriously and we launched an immediate and thorough investigation into Ethan’s stillbirth; a copy of which was shared with Miss Hall. Although staff did everything that was expected of them, in keeping with nationally accepted practice, we appreciate that this was a very sad and unexpected outcome for Miss Hall.

"All through this process we have openly answered any questions that Ms Hall asked in the wake of Ethan’s death and we have offered her our support to deal with her very sad bereavement."

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