Premature Baby Left to Die in UK Hospital


A premature baby was left to die in a sluice room at a hospital in Manchester. The baby, who was born too early to resuscitate, was not nursed for the two hours of her short life but died alone in the room used for the disposal of medical waste.


The distressing incident was detailed in a secret internal report into chronic shortages, bad staff attitudes and clinical errors in the maternity departments of North Manchester General and Royal Oldham hospitals.


A review of maternity services at Pennine Acute Hospital NHS Trust, which operates the two hospitals, was obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Manchester Evening News. It outlined a string of avoidable deaths and long-term injuries caused by failures over many years.


The baby was born extremely prematurely, at around 23 weeks. As per NHS guidelines, staff did not try to keep her alive, but the report said “essential” basic compassion was missing.


“When the baby was born alive and went on to live for almost another two hours, the staff members involved in the care did not find a quiet place to sit with her to nurse her as she died,” it said.


“[They] instead placed her in a moses basket and left her in the sluice room to die alone.” Long-term failures in the departments led to “high levels of harm for babies in particular” and repeated warnings over years had not led to improvements.


The paper said the trust tried to suppress the report and even claimed it did not exist. The report identified “clear evidence of poor decision-making which has resulted in significant harm to women” and “real issues” on maternity wards.


This resulted in “high levels of harm for babies in particular, which has significant life-long impact,” it said.


In one instance, a baby died because its mother had a rare blood type which staff failed to identify.


The report cited “worrying repetitive themes” across the department, including failures to monitor basic vital signs, poor documentation, key lab results left unchecked, and critical missing information left off patient records.


Professor Matthew Makin, medical director at Pennine NHS Trust, said a new Head of Midwifery had been appointed and that  31 new midwives started work in the maternity units at North Manchester and Oldham last month.

Irish Independent. November 24.

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