This was Becky's first pregnancy and she had an uneventful antenatal period.
At 40 weeks, Becky attended hospital in the early morning. She was 4cm dilated and admitted. Becky received little support or intervention over the next 24 hours. Baby Tommy's heart rate was noted to be high, Becky's contractions were irregular, and she made no progress with dilation. Despite these indications, she was not reviewed by an obstetrician, nor was baby Tommy monitored by CTG. Becky developed high blood pressure which was not identified nor acted on.
Becky remained on the ward overnight with no CTG monitoring. During a routine check the next morning, the midwife was unable to find baby Tommy's heart rate. An ultrasound scan confirmed his death. Becky was encouraged not to have a Caesarean section, and it was a further 10 hours before Tommy was delivered stillborn. Becky lost 1.5 litres of blood during delivery.
A post mortem on baby Tommy was performed and a Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) report prepared. It was critical of failings in care, including:
- CTG monitoring should have commenced on Becky's admission – this was never considered or escalated.
- Suspected fetal growth restriction should have led to obstetric led care and closer monitoring.
- No evidence of a continual risk assessment, which could have led to earlier obstetric review and transfer to labour ward
- Failure to recognise Becky was in established labour.
- Local and national guidance not followed for several factors.
Becky's mother contacted Arti directly after reading her case studies representing other families affected by treatment at the maternity departments at Queens Medical Centre (QMC) and Nottingham City Hospital. The Trust is currently the subject of an Inquiry led by Donna Ockenden.
Shortly following instruction, Arti wrote to the Trust inviting them to accept liability. Nine months later, the Trust indicated that breach of duty would not be contested, accepting that there had been a failure to monitor the baby’s heartrate (according to national guidelines) for almost 11 hours.
It went on to admit that had appropriate monitoring been commenced, delivery would have been expedited and the Tommy's stillbirth would have been avoided.
No admissions were made in respect of Becky's claim until further clarification was sought. The Defendant responded to say it would not 'challenge' her entitlement to a claim. An early low offer was rejected.
In September 2022, Arti served evidence in support of the claims, inviting the Trust's representatives to make a sensible offer of settlement, or to attend some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to negotiate settlement. This offer was resisted by the Trust's solicitors on many occasions, with three further offers with minimal increases, all of which were rejected.
With the parties unable to agree a settlement, proceedings were issued at Court.
An unsuccessful mediation took place in May 2023. No expert evidence or counter schedule was provided by the Defendant and a single, final offer was made by the Trust's solicitor after four hours. This was swiftly rejected.
The matter was returned to NHSR and after sensible discussions with the case handler, the case settled for a six-figure sum.
At the end of the case, Becky and her partner said:
"It was my mother that looked into getting the best legal representation after the loss of our first baby during childbirth as myself and my partner were in no state to consider this.
Arti at Fieldfisher, was chosen due to her previous experiences in such cases and in dealing with our hospital trust, in particular. It really brought it home to us how often errors are being made in maternity units leading to stillbirths and we wanted to do our bit to prevent this from happening again.
We felt confident being led by Arti due to her knowledge and expertise in this field and she helped and advised us on all the important and difficult decisions.
Throughout the process, Arti has been exceptionally reassuring at a time when things were so raw and painful to discuss. Her calming and sympathetic nature made it easier for us to be open during the most difficult time of our lives.
My partner and I are so grateful for all of Arti’s persistence, dedication and supportive ways. She has helped us seek justice for our baby boy and provide his two siblings with a better future in memory of their big brother.
We cannot thank Arti and her team enough and would have no hesitation in recommending her."
Read Arti's other cases against Nottingham here.
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