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Panorama reports on poor maternity care in London

Leigh Day clients feature in tonight’s programme, One born every 40 seconds

Photo courtesy Heather Paterson and Iain Croft

25 July 2011

Tonight, BBC investigative programme Panorama, (BBC1 25.7.11 8.30pm) One born every 40 seconds, will feature the case of Heather Paterson and Iain Croft, parents of the late Riley Croft who died at the Royal Free Hospital in 2005 of asphyxia when he was 35 minutes old.  Heather and Iain were advised by Leigh Day clinical negligence partner Sally Jean Nicholes who represented them at the coroner’s inquest, in a civil claim against the Trust in negligence, and in a formal complaint to the Nursing and Midwifery Council about the midwives involved in Riley’s birth. The NMC found that the midwives’ fitness to practice was impaired at the time and remained so.  The NMC will decide about the sanctions to be imposed in September.

Tonight’s programme follows the publication of a report seen by Panorama that suggests that poor maternity care may have contributed to the deaths of 17 women in London over 18 months.  The report found that 17 out of 42 deaths could have been avoided and that the internal inquires carried out at the hospitals were sometimes inaccurate, not objective and "defensive in nature".  Of the 29 serious incident reports, the panel of experts found that it disagreed with 17 of them.

Sally Jean Nicholes’ impression when acting for Heather and Iain, and for other clients in similar cases, was that the investigations and inquiries carried out by hospitals following the death of a baby or mother may be well intentioned but were largely ineffective in that the same mistakes were often being repeated with the same tragic outcomes.  She says:

“This is not the first case we know of in which a hospital Trust has carried out an investigation following a serious incident, made recommendations and issued guidelines to staff to prevent a recurrence, only for this to happen.  The Chief Medical Officer once said that the NHS is an organisation with a memory.  Sadly, it would appear that what the staff of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust had learned from the death in 2001 had been forgotten by the time Riley was born."

Clinical negligence partner, Claire Fazan was interviewed for tonight’s edition of Panorama and says:

 "When errors are made by midwives or obstetricians the consequences can be catastrophic for the mother and/or her baby.  Errors are far more likely to occur in a service that is under resourced and when staff are, as a consequence, over stretched.  The impact of these errors has the most devastating effect on the lives not just of the women and babies themselves, but also on the wider family - husbands, partners, other children."

Clinical negligence and birth injury claims

Leigh Day & Co clinical negligence claims lawyers are highly experienced in bringing successful claims for compensation relating to medical accidents. The team has been rated as a leader in this field for over a decade by both main legal directories with barristers rating our serious medical injury team as ‘outstanding’, and ‘exceptional’ in the Legal 500 2010

We have extensive experience in handling complex and high-value medical negligence claims and have succeeded in securing millions of pounds in compensation in areas such as child brain injury (including cerebral palsy and Erbs Palsy claims), brain injury claims, spinal injury claims (including cauda equina cases), amputation claims, surgery and cancer cases, infectious diseases, delayed cancer diagnosis, and cases for the loss of sight or hearing.  Our team includes former nurses, doctors and a radiographer, some of whom are now qualified solicitors, as well as forensic accountants.

We have received recognition as being specialists in the field of clinical negligence work with our accreditations from AvMA, CBIT, the Law Society and Headway.

If on hearing about Heather and Iain’s case you would like to speak to a lawyer about your own experiences please contact Sally Jean Nicholes on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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