A distraught mother whose baby was stillborn due to a hospital’s negligence has slammed Government cuts to the NHS which could see more children dying.
Eirene Massow, 39, and her husband Larry, of Cunliffe Road in Stoneleigh, were left devastated by baby Ruby’s death on April 12 last year at Kingston Hospital.
The couple, who also have a three-year-old daughter Ella and another baby on the way, successfully sued Kingston Hospital NHS Trust in December 2011 for clinical negligence after they found a series of staff blunders led to the stillbirth.
In an investigation into Ruby’s death, the hospital admitted Mrs Massow’s repeated concerns about the baby feeling small and its lack of movement were not noted.
When, at 36 weeks, the concerns were finally acted upon, without urgency or clear communication between staff she says, it was too late.
Following a growth scan of Ruby at 36 weeks, Mrs Massow had an immediate caesarean section to remove the baby.
The baby girl was born small, but without any congenital abnormalities, although she had been suffering from a condition called thrombosis, which prevents nutrients passing from mother to baby, which led to her death.
Mrs Massow said: “When I woke up and heard she hadn’t made it I was in shock, in my own world.
“People say ‘So and so has broken my heart’ but the pain I felt inside my chest was like a piece of my heart had gone.
“Ruby’s death could have been prevented – the hospital killed my baby.”
The couple were initially offered £35,000 in compensation, which they refused, before settling on a slightly larger sum last month.
Kingston Hospital said staff would be retrained and communication improved following Ruby’s death, but Mrs Massow does not find these assurances to be adequate and believes the climate of NHS funding cuts is putting the lives of babies at risk.
She said: “Kingston Hospital is under-staffed and there are too many maternity patients so things are being missed.
“It needs more midwives who earn a decent wage because their mistakes cost lives.
"You can’t make cuts to the NHS because it’s people’s lives you are playing with.
“This shouldn’t have happened in this day and age.”
Anna Dellaway, head of midwifery at Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, said it was “very sorry for the sad and tragic loss of Ruby” but the perinatal mortality rate for the hospital is low – at four in 1,000 births.
She said: “A detailed investigation was carried out and an action plan agreed and implemented, which focused on refining communication between staff and patients, escalation processes and staff training on foetal growth, which continue to be an integral part of our staff training programme.
“We believe our unit is safe and women should feel confident about giving birth here.
"All pregnancies are different and sadly there will be a small number of cases that will have complications.”