Zachary Taylor-Smith: Parents whose baby died after 'failures' in care say 'every day is a struggle'

  • ITV News Central Correspondent Phil Brewster spoke to Zachary's parents, Tim and Hannah Taylor-Smith

The parents of a baby boy who died at just 14 hours old after "total and complete failure" in his care have told ITV News that "every day is a struggle" as they criticised the "catalogue of errors" made by hospital staff.

A coroner ruled on Tuesday that the death of Zachary Taylor-Smith at Royal Derby Hospital was "contributed to by neglect".

Speaking to ITV News Central, Zachary's parents, Tim and Hannah Taylor-Smith, said every day is a battle to keep going.

"I struggle to go to bed and I struggle to wake up in the morning," said Hannah. "And honestly, for me, I have to get up for my children. But that is the only reason I don't give up completely."

Zachary Taylor-Smith

The final moments of baby Zachary’s inquest saw Coroner Susan Evans conclude there had been "gross" and "total and complete failures" in relation to basic care. She stated there had been several “missed opportunities” by staff which could have prevented Zachary’s death.

Shortly after birth, Zachary developed breathing problems, but despite raising concerns, Hannah and Tim say they were ignored by hospital staff.

It was only after Zachary's death that doctors told the couple he'd died from Group B Strep - a life-threatening illness.

Hannah said: "We were told on the night-time, the night of his passing, that his bloods had shown that he had Group B Strep, and I just burst into tears.

"I suppose it was just knowing ultimately that it was an infection, that was something very treatable, that I just couldn't wrap my head around."

The trust running the hospital later admitted its failure to administer antibiotics to Hannah during labour was "likely to have contributed" to his death.

Baby Zachary was jut 14 hours old when he died.

Something the couple from Lichfield in Staffordshire, have found hard to take.

Tim said: "We found that information out with relative ease after the incident happened as well.

"It didn't take too much looking to be able to find the guidelines that stated should have been given antibiotics."

Not long after Zachary was born, worried hospital staff also put out a call for assistance from a doctor, but there was no response.

Royal Derby Hospital

At the subsequent inquest into Zachary's death, his parents heard evidence from two midwives caring for their baby boy in the hours leading up to his death.

One admitted ignoring warning signs he wasn't well - including grunting noises and low temperature readings.

Another apologised to Zachary's parents - saying she should've looked more closely at his medical notes and escalated his care to the neonatal unit.

Hannah said: "It's just a catalogue of errors.

"If it was one I'm not saying it would be better, but it would be easier to understand that one human error.

"But so's just incomprehensible really. I don't understand it."

Hospital bosses have said they are “determined” to learn the lessons from Zachary’s death and said one key change brought in was midwives now attending neonatal handovers to make sure any outstanding reviews are identified to all relevant colleagues.

They said all staff have received a learning briefing regarding guidance on prophylactic antibiotics in pre-term labour and the hospital’s bleep system has been reviewed and improved. New systems are in place which include actions in place should parents raise health concerns after their child’s birth.

Garry Marsh, executive chief nurse at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB), said: "The loss of a baby is devastating and we are sincerely and deeply sorry for the failings in Zachary’s care, which we fully accept.

"We should have provided antibiotics and responded differently to changes in Zachary’s condition and we have been determined to put changes in place, including now using a best-practice tool which helps to better identify any deterioration in newborn babies, has clearer processes for staff to escalate, and means any parental concerns are also immediately shared with the neonatal team.

"Our teams now signpost women directly to information on Strep B, and whilst screening for Strep B is not routinely offered in the UK under national guidance, a month after Zachary’s death we proactively joined and supported a national Strep B research trial."

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