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Newborn’s death raises concerns over maternity ward care

A Halifax woman recently experienced an unbearable loss when her newborn son died just three days after she was turned away from the hospital.

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Sarah Ellis went into labour on Nov. 7, 2014, but was turned away from Calderdale Royal Hospital because there were “no beds available” and told she should go to Huddersfield Birthing Centre instead, Daily Mail reports.

However, because she was not in the advanced stages of labour, she was sent home. But later that day she could no longer feel her baby moving and returned to Calderdale Royal Hospital, where she was admitted to the maternity assessment unit. It was there that midwives suggested that her unborn son may have an infection, but because the ward was extremely busy, it took six hours before Ellis was able to be examined by a consultant.

After she was finally examined, her son Gino was delivered via emergency C-section at 2:34 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2014, Batley & Birstall News reports. But sadly Gino’s health was poor, and he had to be resuscitated twice while being placed on a life support machine.

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Three days after his birth, Ellis and her partner, Adam Asquith, were advised to withdraw treatment, as their son had suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy — brain damage caused by lack of oxygen. Unfortunately Gino died on Nov. 12.

Questions have been raised about the care — or lack thereof — which the family received and whether it could be to blame for Gino’s health problems.

Ward co-ordinator Sarah Balmforth commented on Ellis’ delayed medical review, saying, “I don’t believe her review could have taken place much earlier than it did because the doctors were busy”.

An inquest into Gino’s death began on Monday, March 7, 2016, and Emily Whisker of Irwin Mitchell, who is representing the family, said, “Sarah and Adam have had an extremely distressing time since Gino’s death and they want to know exactly what happened during Gino’s delivery and why he was in such a poor condition”.

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“They have a number of concerns about the care provided at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, and they hope that the inquest will provide them with an opportunity to learn more about the events leading up to Gino’s death and whether any lessons can be learned from the tragedy”, Whisker added.

Midwife Briony Khalifa reportedly accepted that there were multiple high-risk factors in Ms Ellis’ pregnancy during questioning by deputy coroner Oliver Longstaff.

“A lack of movement is a risk factor for infection. The elevated foetal heart rate can be a sign of infection. A green discharge that she was showing might have been an indication of infection”, Longstaff said. “Would you accept that, looking at the situation before Miss Ellis was taken to the labour ward, there should have been an early medical review?”

Ms Khalifa indicated that she accepted this statement.

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