Inquest raises concerns about hospital

THE DEATH of a newborn baby, whose mother had to wait up to 25 minutes for vital treatment, has raised serious “issues” about the ability of a Suffolk hospital to deal with emergencies.

THE DEATH of a newborn baby, whose mother had to wait up to 25 minutes for vital treatment, has raised serious “issues” about the ability of a Suffolk hospital to deal with emergencies.

A senior obstetrician has claimed that she and fellow medics have had concerns for at least ten years about there being only one operating team to cover emergencies during night shifts.

Hayden Bozward was born weighing just 3.58 kilos and suffered severe kidney and brain injuries as a result of lack of oxygen during his birth at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds on December 11 last year.

He died three days later, after his condition deteriorated and his parents were forced to make the decision to switch off his ventilator.

Health service guidelines state that a specialist registrar should have been available within five minutes of being called by midwives who were concerned about the baby's fluctuating heartbeat prior to birth.

However, the only one working on the night in question was conducting another operation elsewhere in the hospital.

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At an inquest held in Bury yesterday Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said an earlier intervention could have improved the chances of survival for Hayden - who tests revealed had been an otherwise healthy baby - but there was no clear evidence that it would have.

The inquest was told Hayden's death highlighted “serious issues” about emergency staffing at the hospital which senior doctors have raised for the last ten years, without any progress being made.

In a statement read out at the inquest from Dr Sarah Gull, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, she said there was an estimated delay of up 25 minutes between the decision being taken to move Hayden's mother to an operating theatre for the birth and her arriving for the procedure.

She said: “This raises issues about the capacity of the hospital to deal with more than one emergency after hours.”

Later giving evidence, Dr Gull said: “We had a risk management system introduced at he West Suffolk Hospital in about 1994/95 and right from that time obstetricians and consultants felt that it was an issue.”

She added: “It's not so much the theatre as the staff, after 5pm there's only one operating practitioner and one operating team to look after patients.”

Anaesthetist Katherine Roew added: “It's not uncommon to open up two theatres at once and depending on the levels of staff on a given night, some times it's possible, sometimes it's not.”

Dr Gull later declined to speak to the EADT, but the inquest heard moves were afoot to improve out of hours services early next year.

And a hospital spokesman said: “West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust would like to extend its deepest sympathy to the family of Hayden Bozward.

“The hospital's obstetrics department has consistently met national guidelines and standards on the care of patients and the staffing of our department.

“These include the labour ward standards set by the Royal College of Obstetricians and the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts, which sets clinical standards for staffing levels and protocols.

“We are working toward further improving our standards, which includes looking at our theatre teams and to this end the trust has already advertised for four clinical fellows in anaesthetics to put in place a second out of hours theatres team.”

Dr Dean, who deemed the hospital's arrangements “a worrying situation” and suggested lessons could be learned, recorded the following narrative verdict: “Hayen Bozward died of perinatal asphyxia of unknown cause and whether early delivery would have improved the outcome has not been established with any certainty from the evidence given.”

Hayden's parents, Amanda and Alan, of Red Lodge, formerly of Hundon, reached an out of court settlement with the hospital for an undisclosed sum prior to the inquest.

They declined to comment after the inquest.

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