Nottinghamshire family break their silence as hospital admits failings led to baby's death

The parents of a Nottinghamshire baby who died just hours after her birth have spoken for the first time of their devastation after the hospital where she was born admitted a ‘series of failings’ led to her death.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 12:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 4:14 pm

On January 19 2018, Brogan Smith, then aged 23, was admitted to Bassetlaw Hospital 13 days past her due date to be induced.

The following morning, her contractions started, and she was transferred to the labour ward.

Following a long and difficult birth, during which Brogan recalls being placed on a CTG to monitor the wellbeing of the baby, little Lilah was born at 2:23am on Sunday, January 21, only to be taken away urgently by medical staff.

“At this point I knew, I knew my baby was gone. I held her after and she just looked like she was sleeping so I half expected her just to open her eyes. But that moment never came."

Less than three hours later mum Brogan and dad Jamie were given the heartbreaking news that Lilah was not going to survive.

They were taken to see her in the special care baby unit where CPR was ceased on their arrival. Lilah passed away moments later.

The family went on to instruct clinical negligence experts at a national law firm to support them in their battle for answers.

The Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust have since admitted that there were failures by staff in the care they provided during Lilah’s birth, including a failure to detect hypoxia during labour and a failure to expedite delivery.

They have admitted that their failures resulted in Lilah’s death.

An inquest which took place in November 2018 at the Council House in Nottingham revealed that Lilah had died shortly after delivery as a consequence of a high volume of meconium, the first bowel movement of a new-born infant, being passed and inhaled into her lungs due to her distress during labour.

The coroner’s report found that this led to a deprivation of oxygen.

Speaking of her ordeal two years on mum Brogan, who lives in Worksop, says she is still ‘extremely angry’ with what happened.

She said: “There are no words to describe what it is like to lose a baby. Jamie and I went into hospital so full of joy, but within just a few hours of Lilah’s birth we were told she was not going to survive.

“That’s the worst news any parents could ever hear.

“After the birth I was only able to hold Lilah for a moment. She was the most precious, most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on in my entire life.

“They whisked her away to the Special Care Baby Unit but as I needed some stitches Jamie and I couldn’t go with her straight away.

“It was not until a doctor came to see us at around 5am that we realised how serious her condition was. The doctor told us that there was nothing further they could do to save her. We were taken straight down to SCBU to find three people surrounding Lilah. One of them was performing CPR but just seconds later a doctor told them to stop.

“At this point I knew, I knew my baby was gone. I held her after and she just looked like she was sleeping so I half expected her just to open her eyes. But that moment never came.

“We spent the next three days in hospital with Lilah, waiting for the coroner to collect her. Although we cherished every second with our daughter, seeing her body deteriorate over these three days has left us with memories that no parent should have of their beautiful baby.

“Lilah’s death has been absolutely devastating for the whole family, and knowing it was completely preventable makes our loss even harder to bear. Had the Trust provided the care they should have done we would now have a two year old daughter running around our home.”

In a letter of response to the family’s solicitor numerous missed opportunities to intervene and delays in observations were identified by the Trust including a ‘failure to detect baby’s hypoxia during labour’, a ‘failure to expedite the delivery’ and a failure to ‘reduce or stop Syntocinin in the presence of an abnormal CTG’..

David Purdue, director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: “On behalf of the Trust, I want to share my sincere apologies and sympathies with Brogan and Jamie. As was highlighted during the inquest, there were clear failings during the care of Lilah and for this we are truly sorry.

“Since this time, and following a review of this case, the department has seen a change in leadership, as well as undertaking an extensive review of guidelines and procedures in order to ensure colleagues deliver high quality and safe care for patients, mothers, their babies and families.”

Subsequent recommendations included ensuring better support and training of midwives, ensuring second checks of CTGs are conducted to avoid error, and a review into the local Trust guidelines in the absence of national guidelines on classifying CTGs.

But Lilah’s family say that whilst they are aware that there have been steps taken by the Trust to learn from the errors made, this is ‘not enough’.

They want assurances that lessons learnt will be shared across the NHS in order to prevent other families from suffering as they have.