Ipswich Hospital admits failings over delayed C-section led to death of Baby James Rawlings

Joanne and Jonathan Rawlings with James at the EACH Treehouse. Picture: JOANNE RAWLINGS

Joanne and Jonathan Rawlings with James at the EACH Treehouse. Picture: JOANNE RAWLINGS - Credit: Archant

James Rawlings, from Ipswich, was just 18 days old when he died at home on May 16 last year. At an inquest which started today, Ipswich Hospital admitted failings relating to a delayed C-section which ultimately led to his tragic death.

In a statement read out at Suffolk coroners’ court, his mother Joanne Rawlings said that, despite asking her doctor for a C-section several times, the emergency operation took place too late.

She claimed the doctor in charge of her care, Dr Lovelina Das, would not listen to her midwife’s advice.

“The whole experience has left me with no trust or faith in the NHS,” she said in her statement read out by Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean.

“There were plenty of warning signs. Everything was fine until I went into hospital.

“I think my care was very poor. Being first time parents, we put our trust in the staff.

“I will never forgive or forget what happened, or get over it. He should be my son. He should be here right next to me. I have his teddy containing his ashes which I cuddle every night, telling him how proud I am of him.”

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The inquest, which started today, was told that Dr Das no longer works for the hospital and is out of the country. Attempts to contact her in order to ask her to attend the inquest were unsuccessful, the court was told.

Mrs Rawlings attended Ipswich Hospital’s maternity ward for an induced birth on April 26, 2016, almost two months after she was diagnosed with polyhydramnios – a condition in which there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby during pregnancy.

In the early hours of April 27, she felt a “popping sensation”, her waters broke and the device used to induce the pregnancy came out.

Mrs Rawlings felt nauseous and was sick, and asked to have a caesarean. Soon after 6am, her husband Jonathan, who attended the inquest, asked the doctors if there was any risk of infection due to the length of time which had passed since her waters broke

She said they were told by the doctor that everything would be fine and there was “no need to worry”, the inquest heard.

By 11pm Mrs Rawlings had still not delivered and an ultrasound was conducted.

“It showed James was face up and looked like his mouth was open,” she said. “I began to feel something was not right.”

In the early hours of the next day, April 28, Mrs Rawlings asked her midwife, Anne Oliver, who shared her concerns, whether she could have a C-section, but was told it was up to Dr Das.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Mrs Oliver said that, at 1.25am on April 28, Dr Das said to wait for another four hours until the next review of Mrs Rawlings.

Mrs Oliver said: “I was not happy about this. It was too long.”

James was born “pale and floppy” at around 4.50am. Dr Das had visited Mrs Rawlings on four occasions during the early hours of April 28.

Mrs Oliver was praised by the family for her efforts that night. She said that Dr Das was aware of her concerns and the parents kept repeating requests for a C-section.

Mrs Oliver said: “We had to get that baby out.” An urgent review between 3.40am and 4am led to the caesarean.

Mrs Rawlings said: “I remember James being born and waiting for him to cry. But as moments went by I still couldn’t hear anything. Then I heard the words ‘CPR’ and ‘crash team’.”

Doctors revived James after 33 minutes but he had suffered a brain injury due to a lack of oxygen. He received treatment at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and was transferred to the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) Treehouse Hospice in Ipswich.

James died a few days later at home while being “cuddled by his family”, the inquest was told.

Dr Dean read out a letter on behalf of Ipswich Hospital admitting that, following an investigation, delays to James’ delivery resulted in his death.

The letter said: “We admit there was a breach of duty in so far as there were delays in the delivery of James. We accept James’ mother’s condition and the CTG (cardiotocography) trace should have led to an earlier delivery.

“On the balance of probability, James would have survived. However, we make no admissions on his conditions after his birth.”

The hospital offered its sincere condolences to the family.

The court heard Mrs Rawlings, who has since given birth to Joshua, now eight weeks old, suffers from flashbacks and anxiety. Her statement added: “If we can prevent it happening again, at least we’ve achieved something.”

The inquest was told the cause of death was 1a severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, 1b group c streptococcal sepsis, pulmonary haemorrhage and polyhydramnios, 1c group c streptococcal sepsis and enterococcus faecalis sepsis and 2 prolonged rupture of membranes.

The inquest at Beacon House in Ipswich is due to conclude tomorrow.