Heartbroken Yorkshire mother launches campaign after baby daughter's tragic brain damage death

A mother who was advised to have a natural birth despite previously having had an emergency caesarean believes delays in delivery led to her baby's death.

Monday, 26th April 2021, 12:09 pm
Whitney and her husband Andy have launched a campaign for medical records to be shared by hospital trusts

Whitney Pickup's daughter Matilda died at just nine days old when she was born with brain damage after an unsuccessful forceps delivery was attempted by doctors.

Her first child had been delivered via emergency caesarean section at a different hospital, but this information was not shared with doctors at Harrogate District Hospital.

Whitney, 33, and husband Andy, 35, have launched a campaign for medical records to be shared by hospital trusts after a probe found "avoidable delays" contributed to the tot's death.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Whitney Pickup's daughter Matilda died at just nine days old when she was born with brain damage

Whitney, of Knaresborough, went into labour in the afternoon of July 2, 2018.

At around 11.45pm, Matilda’s heart rate was reported to be abnormal and Whitney began pushing. By 1.10am on July 3, Matilda’s heart rate had lowered.

Half an hour later, doctors attempted to deliver her using forceps. The delivery was unsuccessful and a caesarean section was performed at around 1.45am.

Matilda was not breathing and required resuscitation.

She was transferred to Bradford Royal Infirmary, where she was cared for before being transported to Martin House Hospice on July 12 but tragically she died later that day.

A Root Cause Analysis Report identified problems including a failure to obtain previous maternity and delivery notes.

These notes would have alerted them to the risks involved as well as avoidable delays in the operating theatre and communication issues.

Whitney, who has two sons Charlie, five, and Isaac, one, said: “It’s still so difficult for me and Andy to accept that Matilda is no longer here and she didn’t get to experience any sort of life.

“What makes it worse and all the more upsetting is knowing our daughter’s death could have been avoided had the hospital simply requested my medical records, making them aware of the risks.

“It’s difficult not to think how Matilda should now be growing up and making memories with her family if it wasn’t for what happened.”

The Trust conducted an investigation and admitted “there were avoidable delays in achieving the delivery of Matilda which caused or materially contributed to her sad death.”

Recommendations were made “to establish a robust process for obtaining previous maternity and obstetric notes if applicable” including a date for when notes should be received and a plan of action if this did not happen.

It was also recommended to update the VBAC policy to “include documentation of relative risk factors and evidence that these have been discussed at the booking stage.”

The couple are now campaigning for Matilda’s Law to make it mandatory for hospital trusts to share antenatal, maternity and labour records if the mother is under the care of a different trust in future pregnancies.

Whitney added: “While we would give anything to be able to turn back the clock, we know it’s not possible.

“So far, we haven’t had any support from the hospital Trust in question, but we’re so thankful that Matilda was transferred to Bradford Royal Infirmary and Martin House Hospice, who did everything they could for us.

“We will never forget Matilda and she will always be part of our family.

“We now want to honour her memory by it being law for trusts to share relevant information to improve patient care and ensure staff are aware of any potential complications.

“If we can prevent this from happening to anyone else then at least we can take something from what we’ve had to go through.”

Irwin Mitchell solicitors, which is representing the family, is campaigning to improve maternity services across the country.

Victoria Moss, specialist medical negligence lawyer representing the couple, said: “Losing Matilda in such a devastating way continues to have a profound effect on Whitney and Andy.

"What was meant to be a joyous time for the couple turned into complete heartbreak.

“Through our work, we sadly come across too many families left to pick up the pieces following the death of a baby following avoidable failings.

“We would urge Trusts to always work in partnership, not only by sharing patient records so the best possible care plans can be put in place, but also by sharing best practice.

“This we believe would reduce the number of mothers and babies either seriously injured or killed.

“We will continue to support Whitney and Andy as they continue to attempt to come to terms with their loss and progress with their campaign.”

An inquest into Matilda’s death is due to begin at Harrogate Pavilion on April 26 and is listed for four days.