A Carnforth woman left devastated when her daughter was stillborn is calling for lessons to be learned after Morecambe Bay’s health trust admitted to a series of failings.
Claire Lloyd Jones, 37, had visited the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on several occasions during her pregnancy in 2015 after suffering from decreased fetal movements, but on each occasion the child’s heart rate was checked and she was reassured that all was well.
However, when she visited the hospital on June 10 2015 after suffering from blood loss and pain at 38 weeks, she was stunned to be informed that her daughter, Hera Violet Boo, had passed away in utero.
Claire had to deliver Hera Violet Boo stillborn two days later.
The hospital has apologised and said a full review of the case has been undertaken.
Following the ordeal, Claire instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care she received, who launched legal action against University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) alleging there were several missed opportunities to provide better support and ultimately ensure the survival of Hera Violet Boo.
Now, after the Trust admitted liability, Claire is using SANDS Awareness Month in June to speak out about how the stillbirth affected her and hopes that the issues she faced will never be repeated in the future. Michelle Thomson, specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, who represents Claire, said: “This is an incredibly tragic case in which medical experts sadly missed several opportunities to intervene and potentially prevent the death of this child.
“While nothing will ever change the heartache and loss that our client has experienced, we are hopeful that this admission of liability will be a step forward in terms of gaining answers and ultimately ensuring that the problems seen here never happen again.
“SANDS Awareness Month, which is held annually to increase awareness of stillbirth and neonatal deaths, is an important opportunity to reflect on this issue and urge healthcare providers to do everything in their power to spot potential warning signs at the earliest moment.”
Irwin Mitchell alleged that UHMBT failed to act on the results of Claire’s first trimester screening and to reclassify her pregnancy as high-risk – a move which would have ensured she was referred for regular ultrasound assessments.
The lawyers also argued that the Trust failed to provide adequate care by not undertaking ultrasounds when Claire attended hospital with reduced fetal movements at both 33 weeks and 37 weeks.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines advise that such an assessment should always be carried out when those issues are identified following 28 weeks.
In April this year, NHS Resolution on behalf of UHMBT wrote to Claire’s legal team admitting to a breach of duty in the care owed to Claire.
Looking back on her experience, Claire said: “Three years on from losing Hera Violet Boo, my husband Stuart and I are still devastated by our loss. It is incredibly hard to take that she could have survived if I had received different care and just thinking about that fact is incredibly painful.
“We know that nothing will bring our Hera Violet Boo back, but we hope that by speaking out about our experiences care will be improved and no one else will go through what we have suffered.
“Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare and SANDS Awareness Month is an important time to consider the impact that this has on families every single day.”
Sue Smith, executive chief nurse and deputy chief executive, UHMBT, said: “On behalf of the Trust, I’d like to sincerely apologise to Claire and her family for the sad loss of Hera Violet Boo.
“We have fully reviewed the case to understand what could have been done differently, and actions have been taken to try to ensure this never happens again.
“However, as there is an ongoing legal claim, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”