Clacton/Colchester: ‘Very serious failings’ at Colchester General Hospital lead to baby death

Baby Frankie Gamble died at Colchester General Hospital after 'very serious failings' at birth.

Baby Frankie Gamble died at Colchester General Hospital after 'very serious failings' at birth. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

A baby boy died due to “very serious failings” at an under-fire hospital after a doctor used excessive force during childbirth.

Frankie Gamble died of a lethal bleed to the brain just hours after being delivered by emergency Caesarean section following three failed attempts with forceps.

The tiny tot suffered a fractured skull after Professor Mohammed Khalad used “excessive force or poor technique” during the delivery at Colchester General Hospital on April 18 last year.

The experienced obstetrician, who oversaw the birth, has been on restricted duties since the tragic death.

Yesterday coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray was damning in her criticism after recording a narrative verdict.

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Mrs Beasley-Murray hit out at a failure to immediately move to an emergency C-section after the first failed forceps delivery and said baby Frankie’s tragic death could have been avoided if better care had been provided.

She added: “There were very serious failings in the care Tracey Gamble and her baby Frankie received at Colchester General Hospital.

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“If appropriate care had been provided, baby Frankie may have survived.

“It is hoped lessons have been learnt from this experience – no one else should have to endure the anxiety the Gamble family had to in April last year.”

Turning to the family, she added: “Clearly, Frankie would have been a much-loved little boy and I would once again like to wish my condolences to you.”

Grieving parents John and Tracey, from Clacton, both attended the inquest and said they were disappointed with the coroner’s verdict.

Fran Pollard, speaking on behalf of the Gamble family after the inquest, said: “The night of April 18 last year will haunt Tracey and John and the extended family for the rest of their days.

“They are disappointed with the coroner’s verdict but hope lessons will be learned from their tragedy so no other family will have to experience the devastation they have endured.”

An independent expert told the inquest that Professor Khalad should have been able to deliver the baby using forceps and must have used excessive force or a poor technique to cause the injuries.

Dr Jeremy Brockelsby, a consultant obstetrician with Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, who independently reviewed the case, went onto query why a Caesarean section was not considered earlier.

He told the inquest: “If baby Frank had been born by C-section, the likelihood is he would have been born intact.

“There were a number of failings which occurred which led to the sad death of Frank. Gross failings is too strong, but there were a number of them.

“They did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled.”

Professor Khalad denied the claims of the expert and told the court he had previously conducted more than 800 successful forcep deliveries.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust – which runs the hospital – was one of 14 trusts under review due to higher than average death rates. A report released this week did not recommend it had to be placed in special measures.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Mr and Mrs Gamble for the sad death of their son, Frank.

“Whilst nothing can now change the sad events of 18 April 2012, it is our hope that the action we have taken to understand why this happened and the steps we have taken to achieve as much learning as possible from this tragic event indicate how seriously we have taken Frank’s death.

“We continue to work with staff to ensure they always aim for safe, high quality care, and always learn where improvements are needed.”

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