Premature baby died after mother was wrongly discharged from hospital

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An Essex mother whose premature baby died after she was wrongly discharged from hospital says she has been failed by both the NHS and the coroner’s service.

Delayed Diagnosis NHS Failures

In pain and bleeding during her second pregnancy, Alison Davis attended Southend Hospital in December 2009, where doctors said she was well and that she should "rest up" at home.

However, Ms Davis began to suffer more stomach pains less than 1 hour after leaving the hospital. She returned to her parents' house in Eastwood where she gave birth to a baby girl, premature by almost 14 weeks.

Ms Davis, 33, said an ambulance had been called by her parents. "When it arrived they pronounced her as stillborn."

Ms Davis was taken back to hospital. Although a midwife discovered that the baby, Bethany, was moving her fingers and had a heartbeat, doctors were unable to save her.

Ms Davis, who lives in Hullbridge with her husband Glen and their 14 year-old daughter Georgina, said her family felt let down by hospital staff.

"We put our trust in them. They are meant to keep women in for 24 hours if they are in pain and bleeding. We had been trying for a baby for 5 years so she was our little miracle. It has been an absolutely awful time for us all."

The chief executive of Southend Hospital, Jacqueline Totterdell, acknowledged that while a hospital stay would not have saved Bethany due to her prematurity, there had been shortcomings in examination protocol.

"Since Bethany's death in 2009 we have taken a number of steps to address the concerns this tragic case raised, including better support and guidance for junior staff from senior colleagues, improved training on our guidelines and policies and increased awareness of the need for a good standard of note-keeping and communication between doctors and midwives."

Stressing that caring guidelines for very early-term births had been updated, Ms Totterdell added: "We accept the care the Davis family received at that time was not of the highest standard, and will seek to work with them to ensure that any recommendations made by the coroner are fully implemented."

Forced to wait some 30 months for an inquest into the tragedy, the family also believes there has been failure on the part of the coroner's service, which has been beset by delays.

"We have been let down by the coroner’s service because we have not been able to move on from this," Ms Davis said. "We were never told why it has taken so long."

The inquest into Bethany's death has finally been scheduled for Southend Coroner’s Court later this week. Despite the delays, a spokesperson for Essex coroner’s service was unavailable for comment.


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