Parents of baby boy who died 14 hours after birth react to 'harrowing' birth trauma inquiry report

Warning: This article contains details about birth trauma

ITV News Central Correspondent Phil Brewster hears from Tim and Hannah Taylor-Smith whose baby boy died 14 hours after birth after failings in maternity care

The parents of a baby boy who died in hospital in Derby hours after being born following major failings in his care have said the "simplest of things were forgotten or missed".

Their comments come following a damning report by MPs found poor maternity care is too often being tolerated as "normal" - while women are treated as an "inconvenience".

The inquiry was led by the MP for Stafford Theo Clarke, who suffered birth trauma while delivering her daughter, had to undergo a two-hour surgery without general anaesthetic after the birth of her daughter in August 2022.

And its findings reflect those ITV News Central covered recently in our own special programme on the state of maternity care across the Midlands.MPs spoke to hundreds of parents as part of their investigation.

Tim and Hannah Taylor-Smith, whose baby boy Zachary died 18 months ago, read the results of the inquiry revealing poor maternity care for thousands of mothers across the country.

They said: "It seems the most basic levels sometimes is really sub-par. And it seems to be the case across the board as well.

"Through our own experience we've kind of learned that it was often the most simplest of things that were forgotten or missed.

"But obviously since our experience we've spoken to many other families where that also seems to be the case."

Shortly after birth, Zachary developed breathing problems, but Hannah and Tim say they were ignored by hospital staff. Credit: Hannah and Tim Taylor-Smith

What is the Birth Trauma Inquiry and what has it found? The Birth Trauma Inquiry heard evidence from more than 1,300 women who had given birth.

Some described being left in blood-soaked sheets, while others suffered life-changing injuries. Many were also mocked, shouted at, and even denied basic pain relief.She said: "We've even had women who post-natal had severe tears that lead to them having bowel incontinence for example."

Stafford MP Theo Clarke said: "There seems to be a real taboo about taking about risks in childbirth.

"And I hope by me very publicly discussing it in my speech in the Chamber, and obviously Parliamentarians stalking about it today we can try and break that taboo.

"I think what really struck me reading though all of the submissions, and every single one was read and thank you to so many people for writing in, is that there does seem to be a postcode lottery in this country in maternity services.

"And I don't think that's right. And I think the PM needs to do something about it today."

What has the birth trauma report recommended? The report recommends an overhaul of maternity and post-natal care in the UK, including recruiting, training and retaining more midwives & obstetricians. Ministers say they are listening.She says: "We're changing the culture around maternity services, making it much more focused about mum and baby.

"And rolling out both these peri-natal pelvic health services, but also the mental health services for mums. Specifically across the whole of England means that mums who are struggling psychologically after a traumatic birth will get the help and support they need as well.

On Monday, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: "The experiences outlined by women in this report are simply not good enough and not what the NHS wants or expects for patients."She said the NHS England was working with local health bodies to "create and nurture a culture where women are listened to, their choices respected and care is personalised, equitable and safe".

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said she was "determined to improve the quality and consistency of care for women throughout pregnancy, birth and the critical months that follow".

In January, she shared her personal experience of the "darker corners" of the NHS, after giving birth as a patient with type one diabetes.

"I want to reform our NHS and care system to make it faster, simpler and fairer for all of us and that includes women," she said.

Help and support for any of the issues raised in this article can be found via a number of organisations, including:

  • Birth Trauma Association is a British charity that is solely dedicated to supporting women and families who have experienced traumatic birth. It offers a range of support which can be found on its official website.

  • Tommy's works across the whole pregnancy journey and offers bespoke online advice to anyone suffering with PTSD following childbirth.

  • The National Childbirth Trust supports thousands of parents every year on their pregnancy journey and lists advice on its official website regarding how to recognise the signs of a traumatic birth or PTSD.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…