THE parents of a baby boy who died earlier this year have hit out at “systematic failures” at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
Aimée Whelan and Simone Rizzari, from Radcliffe, were devastated after their baby boy, Alfie, died during labour in January.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has now admitted the baby’s death could have been prevented if correct procedures had been followed by midwives.
Aimée said: “If rules had been followed this horrendous ordeal would have been avoided. It’s hard to put into words how much this has opened our eyes to the problems that exist in maternity services. It never even entered our heads that oversights so basic could happen.
“We want to make other parents aware so that they can question things more and know that these risks exist.”
Aimée’s pregnancy was incorrectly categorised as ‘low-risk’. This led to Alfie’s delivery being booked at a midwife-led centre, Ingleside.
A hospital birth should have been arranged after the 23-year-old had an unusually low BMI. She went into labour on January 5.
Midwives failed to ask Aimée to attend Ingleside, despite her attempts to contact them and raise concerns about Alfie’s lack of movement.
When midwives finally saw her, they failed to recognise she was not progressing as expected and that something was wrong.
Aimée was told of a four-hour limit on how long she could stay at Ingleside and that if she went home and took paracetamol, she could get some sleep.
On the night of January 7, Aimée contacted the maternity unit and said Simone could not hear Alfie’s heartbeat. It took Aimee 17 attempts to contact the hospital.
Aimée was told to attend the Royal Bolton Hospital, but midwives were unable to find Alfie’s heartbeat and gave the devastating news he had died.
Aimée added: “The NHS really needs to look at the processes it uses when managing a labour as I was continually told to take paracetamol and have a bath, despite being exhausted and in need of proper attention. This caused me a huge amount of stress and I would never want anyone to go through that.
“Within two weeks of Alfie’s death we were told the trust had already done a rapid review and were implementing immediate actions but a baby shouldn’t have to die for this to happen. I don’t want Alfie’s death to be in vain but I also want justice for him.”
Lucy Mellor, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW which represented Aimée and Simone, said: “This is an extremely tragic case. Alfie should, quite simply, never have died. There were a number of mistakes which occurred throughout Aimée’s pregnancy and labour.
“Despite multiple opportunities to put things right, nobody took the steps to do so.
“Decisions about Aimée’s care should not have been placed with the midwifery team in the first place.
“If she had been placed on the correct pathway then she would have received care from an obstetrician, and a plan would have been put in place to ensure Alfie’s safe delivery.
An investigation by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, highlighted a number of issues with the care.
Karen Meadowcroft, the hospital trust’s chief nurse, said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Alfie’s family. We offer an unreserved apology for where the care we provided fell short of our high standards. It is important to learn and improve the service following such a serious event as the loss of a baby.
“We therefore carried out a full investigation and took every opportunity to review policies and practices and have made a number of changes to our policies and procedures to minimise the risk of such a tragedy happening again.”