The bereaved mum of a stillborn baby has won compensation after a bungling medic dismissed her fears of losing vital fluids – telling her she had “wet the bed.”
Charlotte Jackson, 29, and partner James Harris, 28, lost their son Jacob when he died before being born at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital in 2018.
Jacob’s case is one of more than 1,800 being investigated by a review into maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).
A report revealed a “toxic” culture at the Trust which allowed malpractice since the 1970s and that the deaths of at least 42 babies and three mothers were avoidable.
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The trust have admitted liability by failing to arrange for Charlotte to have a caesarean to save her baby and have paid the couple an undisclosed settlement.
Charlotte, from Bridgnorth, Shrops., said: “When I found out I was expecting we were delighted. That it was Mother’s Day made it feel all the more special
“Throughout my pregnancy with Jacob I was very positive in mood and was very much looking forward to being a mum again.
“I attended hospital a few times and attended various appointments but at no point did the staff seem like there was anything to be wary of.
“But that all changed during my pre-surgery assessment.
“I was quite worried and upset. Jacob had always been a very active baby so when I noticed that his movements were reduced I had a gut feeling that something was not right.
“However, I was shocked when I was told that it was a one off and I’d probably wet the bed.
“Despite my fears it seemed like they wanted me out of hospital because it was busy. That fear just grew over the next couple of days.
“When I went back to hospital I tried to tell myself everything was going to be fine but deep down I knew it was bad news.
“Giving birth to Jacob was absolutely horrific. It’s almost impossible to put into words the emotion of it all, knowing your baby had already died.”
Over the coming months Charlotte attended hospital twice complaining of reduced movement from her baby and stomach pains.
At an appointment in October 2018 doctors recommended a caesarean was booked in at 38 weeks because of the expected size of Jacob.
On October 22 Charlotte attended hospital after she noticed a lack of baby movement.
On October 31 she attended a pre-caesarean assessment and reported losing fluid, reduced movement of the baby and suffering stomach pains.
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Despite being classed as a ‘high risk’ pregnancy due to her diabetes, an anaesthetist told her the hospital was “short staffed” and she had “probably wet the bed”.
Two days later on November 2 she called the hospital concerned she had not felt her baby move since the previous lunchtime.
Charlotte was told to attend hospital where tests confirmed Jacob had died.
Following their ordeal the couple instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and SaTH have since apologised to them.
Louise Barnett, the Trust’s chief executive, said: “The Trust recognises how serious the shortfall in your care was and the suffering this has caused you.
“I understand that Jacob could have been born healthy if we had arranged delivery earlier. I am very sorry that we let you and Jacob down.”
The tragic case comes as West Mercia Police investigate the “biggest ever maternity scandal” at SaTH.
The police probe was launched in June last year after an inquiry by midwife Donna Ockenden identified dozens of baby deaths since 2003.
The Ockenden Review is investigating more than 1,800 maternity cases involving the Trust stretching back decades.
Eleanor Giblin, of Irwin Mitchell who represented Charlotte and James, said: “This is a tragic case in which totally avoidable failings in Charlotte’s care ended in devastating circumstances.
“The issues in Charlotte’s care echo many of the well-documented issues that have been highlighted in the Ockenden Review, including more senior doctors not having an overview of care.
“While nothing can ever make up for their loss we’re pleased that we have at least been able to provide Charlotte and James with the answers they deserve.
“We continue to hear a number of worrying first-hand stories from families about maternity care at the Trust.
“These coupled with other maternity scandals such as Morecambe Bay and East Kent Hospitals indicate a lot more needs to be done to improve maternity care.”
Despite their heartbreak at losing Jacob, in early 2020 the couple found out they were expecting again and Charlotte gave birth to son Ronnie-Jack last July.
Ronnie-Jack also has an older brother, Noah, aged six and a sister Elsie, aged five.
Charlotte added: “When we found out we were expecting again we were overcome with a mixture of emotions.
“My pregnancy was overshadowed by a constant anxiety every time I felt pain.
“It was just a huge relief when Ronnie-Jack was born and we got him home. I couldn’t believe he was with us and I had to keep pinching myself.
“However, the pain at losing Jacob remains as deep as it did when he died. I will always remember that awful day when I was told he had died.
“I have some very bad days where I feel the loss of Jacob very strongly. We call Jacob’s grave his special garden.
“When I recently took Noah and Ronnie-Jack there, they were laughing together and it suddenly struck me that there should be another child there and I became very upset.
“We will never forget Jacob. He will always be part of our family and his brothers will grow up knowing all about him and how much we love him.
“It just breaks our hearts that he is not with his brothers causing mischief.
“We put our faith in the staff and were badly let down by them. That we are not alone in what happened to us makes it all the more shocking.
“Our hearts go out to all the other families who have been affected by maternity issues at these hospitals.
“That’s why we felt it was important to speak out.
“Nothing can bring Jacob back but what has happened to the families can never be forgotten and improvements in care need to be made.”