Claims Against Basildon Hospital

6 Nov 2020 | Stephanie Prior

At Osbornes our specialist medical negligence solicitors represent a number of women who have been affected by poor maternity care at Basildon Hospital. The hospital is managed by Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

June 2020 CQC Inspection

There have been concerns about the care provided to expectant mothers at Basildon Hospital for some time. Most recently, in June 2020 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an inspection of the maternity unit following a report from a whistle-blower which raised serious concerns about the safety of the unit in May 2020. This was the second inspection of the unit by the CQC since February 2019.

As a result of this focused inspection, serious concerns were raised. The CQC noted that although some improvements had been made since its previous inspection, there were still a number of areas of concern. Notably, during their visit the CQC inspectors found:

  • High-risk women were giving birth in a low-risk area;
  • There was not enough staff with the right skills and experience;
  • “Dysfunctional” working between midwives, doctors and consultants, which had an impact on the “increased number of safety incidents reported”;
  • Concerns over foetal heart monitoring;
  • Women being referred to by room numbers instead of their names; and
  • A “lack of response by consultants to emergencies” resulting in delays.

The CQC were particularly concerned that there had been a lack of learning from previous adverse incidents and that actions that were meant to have been taken in response were not embedded into practice at the unit. As a result of poor maternity care at the unit six babies had been born in poor condition and required ‘cooling therapy’ following birth.

The CQC issued a warning notice to the hospital under Section 29A of the Health and Safety Care Act 2009, requiring them to make urgent improvements.

October 2020 – Ongoing Concerns

However, despite the warning from the CQC following the June inspection, problems with maternity care continued at the unit, which resulted in direct harm to mothers and their babies on a number of occasions.

The CQC’s inspectors visited the unit again in September 2020 and found that the Trust had still not dealt with some of the serious problems which were identified during the June inspection.

The CQC found that there were unsafe staffing levels on the maternity unit for almost the entire duration of August 2020 with only 4 shifts in a five week period having adequate staffing levels.  On 7 October 2020 the CQC put the Trust on notice that it was required to implement an effective governance system, amongst other measures intended to improve maternity safety, by 9 November 2020.

Notably, the CQC found on this occasion that:

  • Only four shifts throughout the month of August had safe staffing levels;
  • The CQC was told 20 midwives had been recruited, yet subsequent documents submitted by the trust did not support this;
  • Required safety meetings during shift handovers did not take place;
  • Incidents affecting patient safety were inappropriately categorised, including one in which a woman who lost more than a litre of blood was graded “no harm”;
  • Babies were transferred to intensive care, yet graded as “low” or “no harm”; and
  • Inconsistent guidance to staff on identifying the risk of post-partum haemorrhage.

It is unclear what will happen if the Trust fails to comply with these measures. However, the CQC does have the power under the statute to close health services. The Trust may also be fined.

How Osbornes Can Help

Our specialist medical negligence solicitors have many years of experience dealing with legal claims arising from poor maternity care and have represented a number of women who have experienced poor care leading to harm at Basildon Hospital.

We recognise that losing a baby or suffering an injury during labour is an extremely traumatic and emotional time, and our lawyers deal with each case with sensitivity and professionalism, ensuring that the stresses of the legal process are not placed on to mothers and their families at what is a very difficult time in their lives.

Serious Failings in Care

Stephanie Prior, a partner and the head of medical negligence at Osbornes, is representing the husband of Gabriela Pintilie, who died during childbirth at Basildon in February 2019. Stephanie represented the family at the inquest touching upon Gabriela’s death at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court and continues to act for the family in a civil claim for damages against the Trust.

Gabriela Pintilie, who was 36 years old, lost six litres of blood after giving birth to her daughter via a Caesarean section at Basildon University Hospital in February 2019. After a series of delays, doctors decided to attempt to induce a vaginal delivery, but when that was unsuccessful, a Caesarean section was performed. Mrs Pintilie lost blood during the Caesarean section. Blood and blood clotting products were requested by the doctors. Mrs Pintilie was given two units of O negative universal blood and six units of blood were cross-matched to her.  However, none of the clotting products were administered despite the products being in the fridge outside the theatre. This was criticised by an independent doctor at the inquest into Mrs Pintilie’s death, following which the coroner concluded that there were “serious failings in the care Mrs Pintilie received at Basildon Hospital”.

Nicholas Leahy, a solicitor in the medical negligence department, also represents several women who have had stillbirths as a result of negligent care at the unit.

Specialist Advice

Our solicitors are able to advise you as to whether you may have grounds for bringing an obstetric negligence claim as a result of negligent maternity care.

Our initial consultation is free of charge, and our solicitors can also assist you with making a complaint to the managing Trust and obtaining copies of your medical records, which are essential when considering a legal claim.

If you have experienced negligent maternity care, which has led you or your baby to suffer injury, you may be entitled to damages. This can include compensation for things such as care following the birth, private medical expenses and loss of earnings. Each case turns on its own facts and so it is vitally important that you instruct an experienced and competent solicitor to handle the claim on your behalf.

Our solicitors act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, and so there are no costs to be paid if your claim is ultimately unsuccessful.

If you or a loved one have been affected by poor maternity care at Basildon Hospital, or at any hospital in England or Wales, please feel free to contact one of our solicitors in the medical negligence team for a confidential discussion and they will be able to advise you further. Please call 020 7485 8811 and ask to speak to a member of the department.

You can read comments from Steph on behalf of her clients treated at Basildon Hospital in the following publications;

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