'It's vital lessons are learned' - Leeds hospital says sorry after it failed to intervene and baby was starved of oxygen at birth

A hospital trust in West Yorkshire has apologised after a baby was born starved of oxygen and with brain damage, despite scans revealing weeks earlier he needed to be delivered prematurely.

By Emma Ryan
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 4:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 9:31 am

Thirty-five weeks into her pregnancy, Harriet Collins was told that baby Seb might not be receiving all the oxygen and nutrients he required and he should have been delivered by 37 weeks.

However, the pregnancy went full term and Seb, now four, was born starved of oxygen and had to be resuscitated. He spent five days on a ventilator and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three.

Following his diagnosis, Mrs Collins and husband, Adam, of Headingley in Leeds, started legal action and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs LGI, admitted a breach of duty.

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Seb Collins had to be resuscitated at birth. He had been starved of oxygen and had to be resuscitated before spending five days on a ventilator. He has since been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has apologised to his family.

It admitted it “failed on multiple occasions” to follow up with a care plan. It said the abnormal scan result at 35 weeks should have resulted in planned delivery of Seb by 37 weeks and, had he been born then, he would “have entirely avoided” his brain injury, the Trust said.

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Mrs Collins said: “It’s still hard to talk about what happened around the end of my pregnancy. We assumed that because Seb was being closely monitored that there would be no problems.

“We just hope that by speaking out we can help prevent others going through what we have.”

Seb Collins faces challenges throughout the day, from speech and making himself understood to mobility, pain, fatigue, struggling with grip and balance say his family after he was starved of oxygen at birth and developed cerebral palsy.

Rachelle Mahapatra, medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said: “While we welcome the Trust’s co-operation and apology, it’s now vital that lessons are learned to improve maternity safety for other families.”

Dr Phil Wood, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said the chief executive had written to the family at the beginning of the year to express "sincere apologies" in relation to the care Mrs Collins received and that the trust had made several changes over the last few years.

He said: “I want to reassure our patients and their families that we have undertaken a full investigation into the care offered to Mrs Collins, the outcome of which has led to significant learning and improvements in care and safety. Over the past few years we have put in place a number of changes, including employing a Consultant lead for the fetal assessment unit, training more midwife sonographers, instigating regular clinical audits and reviews of scans and holding teaching sessions about baby heartbeat listening devices, and their interpretation.

"We also launched a new dedicated consultant-led small baby clinic that cares for small babies prior to 37 weeks and reviews babies with abnormal heartbeat audio before 37 weeks, even in the context of normal growth.

“I would like to reiterate our apologies to Mrs Collins and her family and we wish them the very best.”