Parents Seek Answers Over Death of Their Daughter


The parents of a 26 year old woman from Merseyside who died in childbirth have settled with the NHS Foundation Trust which treated her.

Carly Rebecca Harper

The five figure settlement, which was made in advance of an inquest due to be held tomorrow into the death of Carly Rebecca Harper, has been announced by a specialist Clinical Negligence solicitor of Simpson Millar solicitors, who is acting on behalf of Carly’s father, Robert Harper against Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He said: “In light of the settlement and despite the Trust’s evidence at the inquest, the family remains adamant that the admitted negligent obstetric treatment provided to Carly during the premature labour of her first child was to blame for her death.

“The family feels very strongly that it was a failure from staff at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside to recognise, manage and treat the severe sepsis which led to Carly’s death after she went into premature labour.”

In reaching settlement with Mr and Mrs Harper, the Trust admitted that “there was a delay in delivering the Deceased’s foetus and in administering the second antibiotic as per Trust policy.” However, they did not accept that their failings contributed to Carly’s death.

The Inquest which will examine in detail the cause of Carly’s death in May 2012 takes place before H M Coroner Mr D Lewis who will call a number of clinicians that were responsible for her care during the period of delay to give evidence.

He added: “The Trust produced a Serious Incident Review Report which recognised a number of failings in the care provided to Carly – including the failure of the obstetric team to respond with sufficient urgency to the seriousness of her condition. The window of time when Carly’s life might have been saved was wasted and her family are now living with the consequences. The very least they deserved is absolute clarity about what happened on that fatal day in May 2012, and to be reassured that steps are taken to prevent the senseless loss of such young lives again in the future.”

“It is Mr and Mrs Harper’s firm belief that Carly died as a consequence of negligent medical treatment: there was a failure to recognise, manage and diagnose severe sepsis,” adds Simpson Millar's specialist. “Although it was apparent that the doctors and nurses were faced with a busy maternity ward that day, they did not know how to prioritise the patients and there was little involvement from the consultant until it was too late.

Robert Harper who lives with Carly’s mother Christine in Heswall, Wirral said: “When Carly began feeling unwell we became extremely worried. The evening of 19 May, Christine stayed with her in hospital and I went home. She called me later on to say that it wasn’t looking good but told me to stay at home. At 1.30am that night, she called again and said ‘you better get here fast’.

“When I saw Carly in the ICU my first words were ‘my god, what have they done to her.’ I just couldn’t understand what had happened. I phoned Carly’s sister, Kimberley and she brought her brother Tommy down to the hospital straight away. Matthew was away training with the army and he didn’t make it in time.”


Carly was born in March 1986 and was in a steady relationship with her boyfriend Alex. The couple’s first child was due in September 2012. In February 2012 she was referred to Arrowe Park Hospital under the care of Mr Alam, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.

Carly Rebecca Harper

In April 2012 Carly underwent a procedure to prevent her from going into premature labour which unfortunately was unsuccessful.

On 17 May at approximately 24 weeks of pregnancy, Carly experienced waters broke and she was admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital. She went into premature labour which became established on 19 May. It was suspected that Carly might be suffering from an infection. She was seen by the Consultant that morning and a discussion took place with regards to the risks of premature delivery and the fact that the baby may not survive.

A plan was put in place at 10.38am to deliver the baby if Carly’s bloods indicated that she was suffering from an infection. The blood results were available 13 minutes later but they were not checked until around 1.40pm, when they were noted to show the signs of infection previously suspected and planned for.

Shortly after lunch that day Carly developed tremors and became extremely ill. She was shaking, sweaty, feeling hot and cold and in pain and discomfort. She was taken to the labour ward where she arrived approximately 1 ¼ hours after she had become obviously ill. Along with Alex, Carly’s mother Christine Harper was present throughout and she will testify that Carly was in acute pain from contractions and clinically very ill.

At this point, Christine became aware of the fact that none of the clinicians or nurses appeared to know what to do. There was talk of giving Carly an epidural for pain relief but the anaesthetist advised that this was contraindicated in someone with infection and consequently she was given a patient controlled analgesia pump.

Despite repeated recognition of the plan to deliver Carly’s baby it was not until 5.30pm that she was given the hormone Syntocinon to induce labour. Sadly by 6.20pm her baby had died in utero. It was then safe to use a much higher dose of Syntocinon and move immediately to a more potent drug, however despite Carly’s condition deteriorating the dose was not increased to the maximum until 7.30pm and the more potent drug was not given until 7.50pm.

Following delivery at 9.28pm Carly was taken immediately to the operating theatre and then to Critical Care.

Christine and Alex did not see Carly again until the early hours of the next morning (20 May) by which time she was sedated and on an artificial ventilator. Carly’s organs started to fail and it was recognised that she was unlikely to survive. Later that morning at 9.50am Carly passed away surrounded by her friends and family.

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