Mum of baby who died at Tameside Hospital felt she was 'bothering' midwives, inquest hears

Video report by ITV Granada Reports journalist, Jennifer Buck.

The mother of a newborn baby who died in hospital says she was made to feel like she was 'bothering' the midwives when she phoned the hospital in labour.

Nicole Ditchfield has been giving evidence at the inquest into the death of her son Luca Yates who died when he was a day old at Tameside General Hospital.

He had suffered brain damage. His family believe it was due to a lack of oxygen during a difficult birth.

Statements were read from Luca's mum Nicole Ditchfield and dad Jack Yates by the Coroner in Stockport on Monday 18 September.

Mum Nicole Ditchfield and dad Jack Yates arriving at Manchester South Coroners Court. Credit: ITV Granada

Miss Ditchfield reported a normal healthy pregnancy and was at full term when she went into labour in January 2022.

Unanswered phone calls

In a statement, the mother detailed the numerous phone calls made to the hospital when she was in labour.

She went into the hospital and was sent home twice after being told she was not yet in active labour.

Speaking to the Coroner, Miss Ditchfield said: "I was made to feel like I was being a bit dramatic as it was my first baby".

After being sent home from hospital twice, Miss Ditchfield reported feeling 'the urge to push' so called the hospital again.

She phoned 13 times before she finally got through after about 40 minutes.

She said she was 'worried' when she couldn't get through' and called her Mum as she had 'no idea what I should do'.

When she spoke to a midwife on the phone she was told that it still didn't sound like she was in 'active labour', but that she should go to hospital.

She followed the advice and was quickly moved to the labour ward when she arrived.

Midwives from the hospital say that the phone system has changed and the way they record information has changed since Luca's death.

Emergency Caesarean sectionOnce Miss Ditchfield was admitted, she said staff struggled to detect her son Lucas' heart beat.

She told the court how she cried when she was told she needed an emergency Caesarean section and recalled staff 'rushing around'.Her partner, Mr Yates, told the inquest he remembered 'people running round Nicole in a manic fashion' after the C-section and that everyone left the room and he was left 'not knowing what was happening'.

He said a member of staff told him later that 'baby was out but was struggling to breathe'.Later he was taken to a room where he could see tubes were coming out of Luca, but he said he still didn't realise the 'severity of the situation and that he might not make it through the night'.

He went on, 'I was shocked by how ill he looked'. He said he was told Luca has suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen and that it had taken 40 minutes to resuscitate him.Miss Ditchfield recalled waking up and seeing her mother 'visibly upset'.

"I asked mum where my baby was and she didn't answer. She started crying," she told the inquest. She said she also recalled feeling 'grateful' at the attempts to revive Luca and even 'making a speech' to medics saying how thankful she and her partner were.The doctors apologised and told her they 'could not do more'.The couple made the 'awful decision' to remove Luca from ventilation and he died.

The investigationMiss Ditchfield said she was informed there had been an investigation by the hospital and was not told that anything had gone wrong.

She said she felt guilty that the collapse may have been something she had caused.She said it was only when she saw the hospital's report she understood the 'severity' of alleged failings and that she sought legal representation."We've found it very difficult to talk about what's happened... My first reaction was that the hospital lied to us," she said.The inquest heard that a report by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) uncovered a number of alleged failings at the maternity unit.Among the alleged failings was that staff at the unit had a 'local perception' that a mother's contractions had to be once every three minutes for at least an hour before 'established labour' could be diagnosed.

This 'delayed' the Nicole's diagnosis that she was in established labour, according to the HSIB.

The inquest resumes and is due to last all week.

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