Hospital Staff Blamed For Death Of Baby

23 January 2015, 15:58 | Updated: 23 January 2015, 17:08

The parents of a baby boy who died after being strangled by his own umbilical cord have criticised medics who failed to properly monitor him.

Frankie Hodges died less than an hour after he was delivered at Southend Hospital on March 29 last year.

An internal investigation carried out by Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust found a catalogue of failings in the lead up to his death.

An inquest in Chelmsford heard he died after his umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck, starving him of oxygen.

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray today recorded a conclusion that he died after serious failings in his care by the hospital.

She added: "More timely intervention would probably have resulted in a better outcome. Baby Frankie would probably have survived. Baby Frankie's death was contributed to by neglect.''

Speaking afterwards, parents Ami Solomons Hodges, 31, and her partner Russell Lee, 48, from Great Wakering, Essex, said the ruling would help them get justice for their son and to make sure no other families experienced such a loss.

Ms Solomons Hodges added: "Russell and I were really looking forward to Frankie's birth and being parents for the first time.

"We were both devastated when Frankie died and that last 10 months have been extremely difficult for us.

"I have always believed that had medical staff listened to my concerns and monitored Frankie's condition more closely, Frankie would have been delivered sooner than he was and he would be still with us today - the inquest has confirmed my suspicions.''

The investigation report concluded that staff failed to adequately interpret the baby's heart monitor trace during labour and listed the fact that Frankie's delivery occurred during a shift handover as a contributory factor to his death, the family's solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, said.

The inquest heard evidence that staff failed to recognise that  the baby was in distress and needed to be delivered. This resulted in a significant delay in delivery during which time he was starved of oxygen.

Frankie was eventually delivered by emergency caesarean section but he was not breathing and despite resuscitation attempts he died at just 47 minutes old.

Georgia Kerr-Dineen, a specialist medical negligence expert from Irwin Mitchell, representing the family, said: "This is a tragic and heart-breaking case that has had devastating consequences for a young couple who were very much looking forward to welcoming home their first child.

"It is encouraging that the trust has conducted a thorough investigation in to what happened to Frankie however the results of their report are extremely concerning. It is essential that the family are now given assurances that steps will be taken to improve maternity services at the hospital.

"The inquest has gone some way to providing Ami and Russell with the answers they sought in relation to the events of March 29 and we will continue to work on their behalf to secure financial compensation for Frankie's death.''

Mr Neil Rothnie, medical director at Southend Hospital, said: “We would again like to extend our sincere condolences to baby Frankie’s parents for their tragic loss. The Trust has carried out a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Frankie’s death and those findings were shared with the family and Coroner ahead of the Inquest. 

The Trust have implemented a number of positive changes since Frankie’s birth, and worked to ensure all clinical staff have and continue to undergo enhanced CTG* training focusing on interpreting changes in CTG tracing, which, as recognised by the Coroner’s expert in the case of Frankie was particularly difficult.

We appreciate the Inquest was very difficult for Frankie’s family and we would like to assure them that lessons have been learnt from this very tragic case”.