NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Parents speak of newborn death heartbreak after fatal accident inquiry

Gary and Kimberly Stewart
Image caption Gary and Kimberly Stewart spoke of the pain of losing a child

The parents of a newborn baby who died have spoken of their heartbreak for the first time after a sheriff ruled the failure to provide an emergency ambulance contributed to her death.

Nevaeh Stewart died at Montrose Royal Infirmary's community midwife unit (CMU) in September 2012.

Her mother Kimberly had gone to the unit after going into labour at her home in Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire.

Mrs Stewart and husband Gary said they hoped lessons would be learned.

After a fatal accident inquiry (FAI), Sheriff Pino Di Emidio ruled on 5 February that reasonable precautions could have been taken to avoid her death.

The inquiry at Forfar Sheriff Court was told that Nevaeh died three-and-a-half hours after she was born.

'Simply languished'

The baby could have received treatment at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee but a specialist neonatal ambulance to transport the baby was delayed and took two hours to arrive at the midwifery unit.

The dedicated neonatal team that was allocated to cover Montrose at the time had been on another job in Wick when she was born.

The sheriff ruled that Nevaeh had "simply languished" at the midwifery unit, receiving only "basic resuscitation" because NHS guidelines would not allow a normal ambulance to be sent to collect her.

Image copyright Stewart family
Image caption Kimberly Stewart only held her daughter once before her death

Mr Stewart told BBC Scotland: "The emotions one has when their child dies are extremely difficult to put into words.

"One of my thoughts during the days after was 'this isn't the natural order of things, I should die before my children'.

"Telling Nevaeh's siblings that she had died was the hardest most upsetting thing I have ever done. They did not deserve to have this happen to them. They were innocents, excitingly anticipating the arrival of a new little sister."

'One shot'

He continued: "Having to constantly contemplate this and hundreds of other consequential events whilst trying to maintain my composure while representing my wife, my family and I during the FAI was extremely difficult.

"No matter how difficult it was I would have done it because I was doing it for Nevaeh, to make her life make a difference in the world.

"To wait for a year after proceedings was a very anxious time. I said to my wife it was like sitting the most important exam of your life, but you only get one shot at it and now you are waiting for a year for the results.

"It is perhaps a cliché but I am forever changed after Nevaeh's death and will never be the same person I once was. The FAI is only a small part of the life I now live."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Nevaeh was born at Montrose Royal Infirmary

Mrs Stewart said: "These months have been extremely hard and no words could describe just how much these days have affected us in so many different ways.

"It's been extremely difficult to grieve as one normally would as this process was always in the background.

"None of this will change anything for us, we will forever be missing our beautiful Nevaeh, but hopefully it will reduce the risk of another family having to live through what we have and will do for the rest of our lives."

'Immensely proud'

She explained: "Gary was commended by the sheriff and quite rightly so. To do what he did with no legal training and do it so well, there's no words to explain just how proud I am.

"I know one day when our living children are older and we can explain everything we have been through in this process they will all be so immensely proud of him too.

"It is now over five years since our darling girl was born. To have to deal with such big milestones last year, what should have been Nevaeh's first day at school and her big girl fifth birthday, was both mentally and physically draining.

"That being said we are glad the sheriff took his time as we know he's gone over it all so meticulously and we can now begin to process everything with a clearer mind."

She concluded: "It did not and will not break us because no matter how hard this FAI process has been it is nothing compared to living every day without one of your children."

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