Chance to save stillborn baby ‘was missed’

An opportunity to save a baby who was stillborn at a Yorkshire hospital was “missed”, an investigation by the NHS trust has revealed.
Kerry and Craig WatsonKerry and Craig Watson
Kerry and Craig Watson

Managers at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted if baby Cameron Watson had been delivered one day earlier at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, he would have survived.

And, in a move described in a report for the trust as “almost beyond belief”, parents Kerry and Craig were expected to recover on a ward alongside new mothers because the bereavement suite was being used to store records.

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Mr Watson, 27, said: “We are still struggling to come to terms with what happened, particularly as we don’t feel reassured that lessons have been learned to prevent others having to go through what we have.

“Nothing could bring Cameron 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.”

Mrs Watson, from Normanton, visited Pontefract Hospital on January 3, 2012, and was told only a faint heartbeat could be detected. A consultant told her to return to Pinderfields the following day to be induced, when it was found that Cameron had died.

Mrs Watson, 28, said: “We had known for days that something wasn’t right but hospital staff made us feel that we were being a nuisance and tried to brush it all under the carpet.

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“It just breaks my heart to know that if Cameron had been delivered by caesarean or even the day before when we saw the consultant, he’d still be alive today but instead we felt we were ignored and dismissed because we were blocking up the clinic.”

Law firm Irwin Mitchell took up the case on the couple’s behalf after the hospital’s investigation showed care was sub-standard.

Dr Richard Jenkins, medical director at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals’ NHS Trust, apologised and said they recognised failings in care.

He said: “While sadly we cannot change the outcome for Cameron, we believe the steps we have taken will minimise the risk of a similar tragedy occurring in the future.”

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Dr Jenkins said they had taken action including making the bereavement suite available and updating training.

Trust inquiry reveals failure to treat couple with dignity and sensitivity

Using a hospital bereavement suit to store medical notes was one of a raft of failings highlighted by the trust’s investigation.

Managers at Mid Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust commissioned the report into the treatment of Kerry Watson after her baby Cameron was stillborn at Pinderfields Hospital in January last year.

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The report found a consultant had failed to act on an abnormal reading from a foetal monitor, a failure which “resulted in a missed opportunity to rescue this baby”.

Language used by the consultant was also “unprofessional”, while his behaviour after the diagnosis of Cameron’s death – when he asked to meet with them twice after them turning down a meeting – was “unacceptable”.

The report said there was a “general failure of the team to treat this couple with the dignity, sensitivity, empathy and respect they deserved”.

Sub-standard care added “significantly” to the distress of Mrs Watson and her husband Craig, also parents to eight-year-old Taylor.

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Staff involved in using the bereavement suite for storage should reflect on the impact on bereaved families, the report added.

Managers at the trust said they had made improvements, including making the bereavement suite available, updating bereavement training, improving support for parents and introducing training on interpreting foetal monitor readings.