Mum screams for help before baby girl dies after waiting 40 minutes for ambulance

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Wyllow-Raine Swinburn was pronounced dead five minutes after arriving at hospital

A three-day-old baby died after paramedics took 40 minutes to arrive following a five minute unanswered 999 call from her panicked mum.

Wyllow-Raine Swinburn was pronounced dead five minutes after arriving at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital in the early hours of 30 September last year.

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Her family had spent 40 minutes giving her CPR as they waited for an ambulance to arrive, an inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court was told.

Wyllow-Raine Swinburn who died when she was just three days old (Photo: Family handout/PA Wire)Wyllow-Raine Swinburn who died when she was just three days old (Photo: Family handout/PA Wire)
Wyllow-Raine Swinburn who died when she was just three days old (Photo: Family handout/PA Wire) | Family handout/PA Wire

Her mum Amelia Pill had previously phoned 999 following the newborn’s collapse and spent five minutes unanswered before being transferred to another service in a different part of the country. The inquest heard Ms Pill was screaming “no one’s coming, no one’s coming” and cried “why aren’t they answering the f****** phone” as she waited for paramedics.

An ambulance was supposed to arrive within seven minutes of a call in 90% of cases, according to South Central Ambulance Service, but Wyllow-Raine’s family were still on the phone when help finally arrived. The newborn’s provisional cause of death was recorded as sudden unexpected death in infancy, with the cause of the collapse being unexplained.

Wyllow-Raine was born weighing 10 pounds and five ounces via a caesarean section on 27 September 2022 and appeared to be healthy, the court heard. But lawyers of the family raised concerns that she may have had diabetes that had gone unnoticed by doctors as ambulance service records revealed she had “very low” blood glucose levels.

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Her grandmother Anna Fisher told the hearing in evidence read out by the coroner that the baby was crying and had a fever when she was taken to bed at the family home in Didcot, Oxfordshire, at around midnight that night.

She received a call from her daughter just after 4am to say the baby did not appear to be breathing. Her brother later arrived and performed CPR for the majority of the time they were waiting for the ambulance to turn up. In his statement, her brother said the baby’s skin colour changed “like when you get a bruise” as he desperately tried to save her.

Her grandmother added that they were later given the tragic news that Wyllow-Raine had died. She said: “We were told within five minutes of arriving at hospital that Wyllow had passed away.”

Karen Sillicorn-Aston, clinical governance lead for the South Central Ambulance Service, told the court that the 999 call was made at 4.38am and was disconnected by a BT operator whose job it is to listen in to all calls before they are answered, five minutes later.

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She said rules state the BT operator should pass the call to another service, which in this case was the East of England Ambulance Service, adding that the family remained on the line for two further minutes before the call was answered.

The closest ambulance, which was 20 to 25 minutes away, was dispatched but a closer one was later found and sent instead. Sadly, by the time the ambulance arrived, Wyllow-Raine’s body temperature had fallen to 30.8C despite the room temperature being normal before she collapsed, the hearing was told.

Pathologist Dr Darren Fowler said her cause of death was “more likely than not” to have been natural, before adding he was not the most qualified person to answer questions about whether she would have survived if an ambulance had arrived sooner.

Coroner Darren Salter adjourned the hearing for further evidence to be submitted. It is set to resume on a date yet to be fixed, which is likely to be in around six months.

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