Midwives blamed after deaths of mother and three babies over three month period

Furness General Hospital is under fire after a new report has shown failures by midwives and their supervision in its maternity unit resulted in the deaths of three newborn babies and one mother. Nittaya Hendrickson, 35, her son Chester, Alex Brady and Joshua Titcombe all died within a three month period at the Cumbria hospital.

Joshua Titcombe died in November 2008 at only nine days old. Midwives assumed his temperature was low due to a cold room when in fact he had a serious chest infection. The report found that a dose of antibiotics would have given him a 90% chance of survival.

Nittaya Hendrickson was a diabetic and while the birth of baby Chester should have been considered high risk it was found that midwives failed to carry out crucial heart checks on the baby every 5 minutes - in fact they didn’t even check the heart rate of baby Chester within 15 minute intervals which would be the norm during labour.

Alex Brady was stillborn in September 2008. Midwives did not intervene quickly enough when his mum got into difficulties and again did not monitor his heart beat appropriately.

The report being issued by Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman following a 2011 complaint by the three families also implicated a former NHS chief Mike Farrar for his failures to investigate the deaths during his tenure. Mike Farrar resigned in June this year – it is believed that his sudden resignation was following sight of an early draft of the report however Mr Farrar denies that his resignation was anything to do with his embarrassment over the report.

Earlier this year Jeremy Hunt, Health secretary ordered an independent inquiry into care at the hospital but it has been revealed that this will be done in secret. It is feared that as many as 15 newborns and 3 mothers passed away while under the care of the hospital over a ten year period.

Joshua’s dad, James Titcombe stated ‘It shouldn’t take this long or this much effort to families to ensure proper lessons are learned from serious failures in the NHS’ and Nittaya’s husband Carl Hendrickson was quoted as saying ‘The maternity service at Furness General was a mincing machine in terms of how many people it damaged.

The three families issued a joint statement which included criticism of the previous ombudsman Ann Abraham for initially refusing to commence an investigation.

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