A woman known only as R has received compensation following the stillbirth of her baby daughter at St Peter’s hospital in Chertsey Surrey in July 2013.
R’s first pregnancy was uneventful until at 39 week’s gestation she and her husband were sent home from St Peter's following rupture of her membranes and told to come back the following day for induction of labour.
When R returned to the labour ward the following day at midday as planned she was found to have a temperature of 38.9°C and a fast heart rate. CTG monitoring of the baby’s heart was described as suspicious but R was not reviewed by a doctor until 20.55.
The doctor prescribed R IV antibiotics due to her high temperature and Syntocinon to speed up her labour but the anti-biotics were not given until 21.25 and the Syntocinon was not started until 02.10 (a delay of 4 hours and 10 minutes).
After the Syntocinon was given the CTG trace revealed the baby's heart rate to be more abnormal but it was not until 04.10 the doctor made the decision to deliver R's baby by caesarean.
Sadly, R’s baby was born in a poor condition; without a heartbeat, floppy, pale with significant meconium. The neonatal team could not resuscitate her and her death was classified as a stillbirth.
Expert evidence was obtained from an Obstetrician who advised that failures in R’s care including not admitting her for an induction of labour until 32 hours after her waters had broken, failing to identify and appropriately treat an infection and failing to intervene to deliver the baby sooner despite drops in the fetal heart rate was negligent. The independent expert expressed the view that but for these failures R’s baby daughter would have survived.
Given the expert’s criticisms, Leigh Day sent Ashford and St Peter’s Trust a formal Letter of Claim. The Trust made some admissions but did not admit full liability.
This meant that the bereaved parents had to begin Court Proceedings after which the hospital admitted the care provided was negligent and that negligence caused R's baby's death.
R and her husband wanted assurances from the Trust that lessons had been learnt to try to ensure that no other parents had to go through what they did.
During negotiations to try to settle the case Leigh Day were able to obtain such assurances and an apology, which R and her family wanted.
As well as paying compensation the Trust's Chief Executive wrote to the family to say:
“The care provided to you fell below the high standards you quite rightly expected with tragic consequences…we sincerely and wholeheartedly apologise to you and your family for that failure."