An internal investigation into a baby who died at birth under Heart of England Foundation Trust’s care has revealed short staffing played a part in the death.
Parents Emma Brown and engineer Greig Carleton, from Yardley, in Birmingham, launched a legal battle following the death of their son Tobias at Heartlands Hospital, in Bordesley Green, last October.
Their legal team has been given access to the official trust investigation, which shows there were critical delays and a shortage of midwives on the night of the tragedy.
The baby was delivered stillborn on October 4.
Investigators reported a shortage of midwives and a large number of women who were in labour meant that they could not provide the usual level of care.
Despite being identified as a “high risk pregnancy”, 30-year-old teacher Miss Brown said her labour induction was delayed for more than 15 hours and she failed to receive one-to-one midwife care because the hospital was unable to cope with its workload.
Mother-of-one Miss Brown, who had to undergo a caesarean section after being 12 days overdue with her first child, said: “It has been very difficult for both myself and Greig to cope with what has happened. It’s very hard to think about the child that should have been with us today.
"Our daughter, who is two, has lost a little brother and it was very difficult trying to explain to her why I didn’t bring home the baby that she knew I was having.
“It has been particularly difficult for Greig. He cannot get past the feeling of helplessness he suffered as he watched me bleeding and in pain.
“The doctors and nurses’ behaviour didn’t seem to suggest there was any need for urgency.
"We would like more children in the future but the memories of Tobias are still so raw and the thought of being in hospital and having to trust medical professionals again is very difficult.
“I just hope that the trust learns lessons from what has happened and that no other family have to experience the tragedy of losing a child in such circumstances.”
Family solicitor Laura Daly, from Irwin Mitchell law firm in Birmingham, said: “For Emma to lose her baby boy after carrying him for nine months is in itself incredibly distressing, but to then discover that the hospital’s midwifery services were stretched to breaking point, has led the couple to demand answers and ask if their baby might still be alive if Emma had received better care during her labour.’’
Miss Brown was admitted to Heartlands Hospital just after 2pm on October 2 but the type of induction she needed could not be carried out as a consultant was not available.
It was not until 5am the following day that she was induced and contractions started, but the couple claim that during her second night in hospital staff were too busy tending to other patients and no-one came to check on her.
A midwife only examined Miss Brown 24 hours after her induction, when she was already 7cm dilated and needed to go to the delivery suite, where doctors could not find the correct leads to connect electronic monitoring equipment to the baby’s head.
Tobias was finally born at 6.30am on October 4 but with no signs of life and all attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
Doctors told Miss Brown she had suffered a uterine rupture.
A Heartlands Hospital spokesman said: “The trust has not received formal allegations of negligence, however our internal inquiry has identified shortcomings in the care provided to Emma Brown for which we are very sorry.
“We are working with Miss Brown’s solicitor to reach a settlement of the claim. The trust deeply regret the sad outcome of this case.’’