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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Baby died during 'hectic drive'
Andrea Harrison
Andrea Harrison says her daughter could have been saved
An investigation has begun into how an unborn baby died following a 12-mile car dash between two maternity units.

Olivia Harrison died after her parents were told to use their car to get to a better-equipped maternity unit because no ambulance was available.

The baby was due to be one of the first born at a new midwife-led unit at Bishop Auckland General Hospital.

But they were told to go to Darlington Memorial Hospital, after the unborn baby's heart rate increased alarmingly.

The baby died on the same day Bishop Auckland General's new low-tech maternity unit opened.

Her father Dean, 29, says he was told it would be quicker to drive his wife Andrea to a more high-tech maternity unit in Darlington, rather than wait for an ambulance.

The mother of two, who lives in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, midway between the two units, believes Olivia died during the hectic journey.

The 30-year-old said: "I am absolutely grief-stricken, I have lost a daughter I was so looking forward to having.

Darlington Memorial Hospital
Darlington Memorial Hospital has a hi-tech maternity unit

"My emotions are up and down every day, there are days when I feel so angry and there are days I cannot stop crying."

Mrs Harrison, who has an underactive thyroid, said she was reassured during her pregnancy that Olivia was healthy.

She chose to have her third child at Bishop Auckland General Hospital as it had a new maternity unit which she thought would be well-equipped.

She said she had no idea there would be any complications with her third child until a community midwife reported Olivia had a high heart rate on the morning she died.

In a statement issued by County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, director of nursing Laura Robson expressed officials' deepest sympathy.

She said: "Once the results of a post mortem are available, a full clinical review will be carried out to help establish exactly what happened in this case.

Highlighted concerns

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family, and we will keep them fully informed of the outcome of this."

Mrs Harrison added: "If I had been taken in an ambulance they could have "prepped" me for when we arrived.

"I would have been laid flat rather than being crunched up in the car.

"It was a very hectic drive, I had severe pains throughout the journey and my husband thought I was going to have the baby in the car."

Olivia, who died on 10 May, was buried last week.

Bishop Auckland Labour MP Derek Foster said: "I think the general public, who had tremendous faith in the previous arrangements at Bishop Auckland will want to be reassured that every action is being taken to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen."

Hospital backs midwife-led unit
01 Apr 04  |  South West Wales
Maternity consultation ends
15 Mar 04  |  South West Wales
NHS consultations 'inadequate'
04 Feb 04  |  Scotland

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