Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Baby's hospital death 'avoidable'

A newborn baby's death during a "chaotic" shift at a hospital could have been avoided if she had been delivered earlier, an inquest heard.

Ebony McCall was born by Caesarean section at a ward at Milton Keynes General Hospital.

The baby, who was full term, only had a faint heartbeat and died just over half an hour later.

Her mother was not given the one-to-one midwife care she needed because of a lack of staff, the inquest heard.

No one seemed to be taking ownership of Amanda and her labour and delivery
Paul Wood, obstetrician

Amanda McCall, 18, was initially denied the Caesarean she wanted after being admitted to the hospital on 8 May with severe stomach pains.

Ms McCall, who suffers from a narrow pulmonary valve and only has one kidney, was told by medical staff that the emergency Caesarean would be too risky, despite her own midwife supporting the request.

Instead, she was advised to have an induced birth to ease her symptoms, but she refused because of the pain she was in.

An ultrasound showed the cause was swelling in her remaining kidney, the inquest at Milton Keynes Civic Centre heard.

Expert witness Paul Wood, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Kettering General Hospital, said that to perform a Caesarean when requested by Miss McCall "would have drawn on additional resources on a stretched labour ward".

'High risk'

Deputy coroner Thomas Osborne asked Mr Wood: "If the request of Amanda and her parents to carry out a Caesarean section had been granted at that time, then the chances are on the balance of probability that Ebony would have been born intact?"

He replied "yes", but added it was only the right decision "in retrospect".

Ms McCall, who was 17 at the time, naturally entered labour that night but the baby's heartbeat became erratic.

Mr Osborne said it had been "essential" for Mi McCall to have one-to-one care that night.

He described the management on the ward as "chaotic" and said: "No one seemed to be taking ownership of Amanda and her labour and delivery."

Twelve other babies were born in the 30-bed ward that night, but Ms McCall's medical history should have made her the top priority, the inquest was told.

Mr Wood said Ms McCall, who sat in tears throughout the inquest this morning, was "as high risk as you could possibly be".

He added: "It was necessary to prioritise this case as high risk. If there was any concentrating of resources, then it would be for Ms McCall."

The inquest into Ebony's death is due to finish on Friday.

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