Northern Ireland

Causeway Hospital stillbirth: Northern Trust apologises

Michelle and Barry Rocks at Belfast Coroner's Court where an inquest for their still born daughter Cara is being held, 30 August 2016 Image copyright PA
Image caption Michelle Rocks, pictured with her husband Barry outside Belfast Coroner's Court, was categorised as low risk for a stillbirth

A number of mistakes played a part in the death of a baby at Coleraine hospital, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust has admitted.

The trust has apologised for its role in the death of Cara Rocks, who was stillborn, at the Causeway Hospital.

The baby died at the County Londonderry hospital in June 2013.

A lawyer told the coroner's court it was "likely if an elective or emergency C-section had taken place, baby Cara would not have been stillborn".

The hearing is the first ever stillbirth inquest in Northern Ireland.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said the region was "leading the way" in the examination of stillbirth cases.

Errors

A lawyer for the trust said it "accepted" that a number of errors had played a role in her death.

Image caption Baby Cara died at the Causeway Hospital in June 2013.

These included:

  • Wrongly categorising Michelle Rocks as "low risk"
  • Inadequate levels of counselling
  • Incorrect recording of the baby's heart rate
  • Delays in the decision to proceed to an emergency c-section because of time spent trying to locate a foetal heart rate

"The trust wishes to express an apology to Mr and Mrs Rocks for the unfortunate death of baby Cara," added the trust's lawyer.

"Obviously this is a tragedy for the family. It is not taken lightly and is recognised by all members of the trust who were involved in this case."

Mother Michelle Rocks told the court she was very upset and in tears when she was informed her request for an elective C-section would not be facilitated and that she was "capable" of delivering naturally.

Transverse position

The court also heard how Mrs Rocks, from Moneymore in County Londonderry, was sent home after presenting at the Causeway Hospital at 38 weeks' gestation with her baby in a transverse position.

The 38-year-old "begged" for a C-section but was turned down, the court heard.

"We were robbed of our daughter, our sons of their sister and parents of their granddaughter," said Mrs Rocks.

"We only wish that she had that chance to live."

Midwife Michaela Doherty, who had cared for Mrs Rocks in the delivery suite, said that despite difficulties in reading baby Cara's heart rate she did not believe it was not there.

Later, she told the court she had been informed that baby Cara's umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck.

"I was told the cord was tightly round the neck three times," said Ms Doherty.

Elective caesarean

Another midwife, Lisa Richmond, said she was not aware of a situation where a woman's preference for an elective caesarean section had been refused.

The coroner cautioned the court that the hearing was not a trial.

"This is a fact-finding inquiry. I am not here to attribute any blame or responsibility," said Mr McCrisken.

The hearing is expected to last for five days.

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