A bereaved mum who tragically lost her baby after medics dismissed her symptoms as ‘bed wetting’ has won compensation against the hospital.
Charlotte Jackson, 29, and her partner James Harris, 28, lost their son Jacob when he died before being born at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital in 2018.
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Ms Jackson, from Bridgnorth, Shropshire, suffered a stillbirth after her concerns over losing vital fluids were instead put down to her ‘wetting the bed’.
The tragic incident is just one of more than 1,800 cases being investigated by a review into maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).
A report revealed a “toxic” culture at the Trust which allowed malpractice since the 1970s, with findings showing the deaths of at least 42 babies and three mothers were avoidable.
The trust admitted liability for failing to arrange for Ms Jackson to have a caesarean to save her baby and the couple have now been paid an undisclosed settlement.
The 29-year-old said she was “delighted” when she found it she was expecting, particularly as it was on Mother’s Day, and was “very much looking forward to being a mum again”.
Over the coming months, she attended hospital twice complaining of reduced movement from her baby and stomach pains.
Doctors later recommended at appointment in October 2018 that a caesarean be booked in due to the expected size of Jacob.
On 22 October, Ms Jackson attended hospital after noticing a lack of baby movement and just over a week later attended a pre-surgery assessment where she reported losing fluid and notified doctors that Jacob’s movements had reduced.
Despite being classed as a ‘high risk’ pregnancy due to her diabetes, an anaesthetist told her the hospital was “short staffed” and she had “probably wet the bed”.
She phoned the hospital two days later on 2 November after she had not felt her baby move since the previous lunchtime.
After the call she was told to attend hospital where tests confirmed Jacob had died.
She explained: “I was quite worried and upset. Jacob had always been a very active baby so when I noticed that his movements were reduced I had a gut feeling that something was not right.
“However, I was shocked when I was told that it was a one off and I’d probably wet the bed.
“Despite my fears it seemed like they wanted me out of hospital because it was busy. That fear just grew over the next couple of days.
“When I went back to hospital I tried to tell myself everything was going to be fine but deep down I knew it was bad news.
“Giving birth to Jacob was absolutely horrific. It’s almost impossible to put into words the emotion of it all, knowing your baby had already died.”
‘I will always remember that awful day’
Despite the heartbreak of losing Jacob, Ms Jackson found out she was expecting again in early 2020 and gave birth to son Ronnie-Jack in July last year.
The couple also have two other children, Noah, aged six, and Elsie, aged five.
Discovering she was pregnant again brought up a mixture of emotions and while the couple were thrilled to welcome another child, Ms Jackson said the pain of losing Jacob will always be there.
She said: “The pain at losing Jacob remains as deep as it did when he died. I will always remember that awful day when I was told he had died.
“I have some very bad days where I feel the loss of Jacob very strongly. We call Jacob’s grave his special garden.
“When I recently took Noah and Ronnie-Jack there, they were laughing together and it suddenly struck me that there should be another child there and I became very upset.
“We will never forget Jacob. He will always be part of our family and his brothers will grow up knowing all about him and how much we love him.
“It just breaks our hearts that he is not with his brothers causing mischief.
“We put our faith in the staff and were badly let down by them. That we are not alone in what happened to us makes it all the more shocking.
“Our hearts go out to all the other families who have been affected by maternity issues at these hospitals. That’s why we felt it was important to speak out.
"Nothing can bring Jacob back but what has happened to the families can never be forgotten and improvements in care need to be made.”
More than 1,800 maternity cases under investigation
The couple instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate following their ordeal and the couple have since received an apology from the Trust.
Louise Barnett, the Trust’s chief executive, said: “The Trust recognises how serious the shortfall in your care was and the suffering this has caused you.
“I understand that Jacob could have been born healthy if we had arranged delivery earlier. I am very sorry that we let you and Jacob down.”
The tragic case comes as West Mercia Police investigate the “biggest ever maternity scandal” at SaTH.
The police probe was launched in June last year after an inquiry by midwife Donna Ockenden identified dozens of baby deaths since 2003.
The Ockenden Review is now investigating more than 1,800 maternity cases involving the Trust dating back decades.
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