Inquiry call over deaths in childbirth underlines challenges faced by NHS

Midwifery and obstetric errors can have a devastating impact on the families involved. We deal with many cases where serious mistakes have been made as a result of a lack of resources and training.

This issue was highlighted again recently in Scotland where parents of babies born at an Ayrshire Hospital have called for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

It has been reported by the BBC that at least six cases of avoidable deaths have taken place at the Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock.

One such case is that of Lucas Morton who died at the Hospital last November. It has been reported that NHS North Ayrshire has apologised to Mrs Morton for “the management offered to you in the later weeks of your pregnancy which almost certainly failed to identify complications that contributed to Lucas’s very tragic and unnecessary death”.

An external review into the circumstances surrounding the death highlighted a failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia, delays as well as a failure to correctly monitor the baby’s heartbeat and alert senior staff despite them being unable to hear the baby’s heartbeat for 35 minutes.

Mr Morton has been quoted in the news as saying “Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong, I believe they were understaffed and overworked. They didn’t have the training knowledge and experience and I believe that comes back to management issues”.

An independent report is said to substantiate this and has highlighted that earlier intervention would have led to a different result. Further information highlighted a failure to enforce mandatory training on foetal heartbeat monitoring because of staff shortages.

A whistle-blower called Rab Wilson went public in 2012, saying there were a number of “avoidable deaths” in Ayrshire and Arran that required investigation.

He told the BBC, “I was given a strong assurance by the Chief Executive that lessons would be learned and that these things would not happen again, yet here we are three, four years down the line and exactly the same things has continued to happen”.

Dr Alison Graham, executive medical director of the NHS Ayrshire and Arran Health board has been quoted as saying “NHS Ayrshire and Arran is committed to ensuring that, if there is any possibility that there has been avoidable harm this is investigated thoroughly and that we are open and honest and transparent about this”.

These issues underline the challenges faced by the NHS but which continue to risk mistakes being made. If a member of your family has a complaint linked to a serious concern arising from possible negligence which has led to harm, seek specialist legal advice to establish your options.

For further information, please contact Karen Cathcart, a solicitor specialising in clinical and medical negligence at Devonshires on 020 7880 4383 or at


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