Hospital swapped babies by accident

TWO mums endured a nightmare stay at Bassetlaw Hospital's high ranking maternity unit when their babies were accidentally switched, it came to light this week.

An anonymous hospital worker blew the whistle on the mix-up after the Healthcare Commission dubbed the Kilton Hill facility as 'excellent' in a special report.

One of the mothers, who is thought to be of Polish origin, was given a local woman's baby which she even breast-fed before the alarm was raised.

The newborn then had to undergo tests for numerous diseases, such as HIV, which can be transmitted through breast milk.

A hospital spokesman confirmed the error, which happened last month, and described it as an 'isolated' incident.

Both mothers have since received an apology and a full explanation.

"Although every baby has an identification band, it is apparent that these were not checked properly with the result that babies were not given to their own mothers and one child was fed once," said the spokesman.

"This is an extraordinary and most unfortunate incident, which we deeply regret. We have been very frank and candid with the families and are continuing our investigation."

The shock revelation has knocked the confidence out of expectant mums due to have their babies at the unit.

Rebecca Walker, of Worksop, is 10 weeks pregnant and had her first scan at the hospital on Wednesday.

"It all went fine, and the staff were really nice," said Rebecca, of Cavendish Road, 20.

"But after hearing about what happened with the two babies, I will be a bit scared when the time comes to give birth."

Babies accidentally being switched at birth have featured in the news recently, including the story of two newborn girls who were switched at hospital in the Czech town of Trebic in December 2006.

It was not until a DNA test showed a year later that the girls had been swapped at birth.

The two families involved, had developed strong bonds with the children they believed to be their own.

And in a recent Coronation Street story-line, barmaid Michelle has discovered her teenage son is not biologically hers and had been switched at birth in the hospital.

"You think it is just a story-line and that it does not happen in real life," added Rebecca.

"I can't believe it actually happened."

"You think that the name tag around the baby's ankle or wrist would allow them to keep track on who the babies are and that this would never happen."

"I trust the doctors and nurses there to take care of me when the time comes, but I suppose this will be in the back of my mind once my baby has arrived."

The Royal College of Midwives Board Secretary Breedagh Hughes has expressed her concern at the incident.

"It is a very unfortunate situation. New born babies should have two identification bands – one on the arm and one on the leg. Midwives should check babies have these two name bands before they are released," she said.

"When maternity wards are busy and there is a shortage of midwives, there is an increasing possibility of incidents like this happening. I am glad that the trust has apologised to the family. I expect there to be a full investigation into this case."

Despite the error, just last week the unit was dubbed 'excellent' by the Healthcare Commission scoring an impressive five out of five in two areas; how readily woman can access maternity care and information, and the involvement of women and their partners and families in evaluating the available services.

Hilary Bond, director of nursing, said last week the results were exceptional.

"We are one of only 38 'best performing' maternity units across the country," she said.

"There are areas where we know we can do better and we will use this independent review by the Healthcare Commission as a starting point."