Death of Gloucestershire baby could have been avoided, inquest concludes

An inquest into the death of a baby who died days after birth, revealed he may have survived had he received the right care.

Freddie Whewell died of brain damage at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in May 2020. There was a delay in his mother getting an emergency C-section, resulting in his death.

At the conclusion of the inquest, held at Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court earlier today (October 14) it was revealed that had the hospital acted sooner, baby Freddie may have survived.

Because at the time, there were two other mothers in need of emergency surgery, Jay Whewell, Freddie’s Mother was third in queue and was not taken to the theatre for nearly two hours.

There was a second operating theatre at the hospital, but clinicians thought it wasn’t possible to open it.

Once Freddie was delivered, he had to be resuscitated.

Today’s independent inquiry found that there was a delay in getting emergency neonatal blood to Freddie, as staff were unsure where it was kept.

Investigators told the inquest that Freddie would have likely responded to resuscitation if blood had been given earlier.

A consultant obstetrician told the inquest that if Mrs Whewell had been taken into theatre just 20 minutes earlier, Freddie might have survived.

Freddie’s parents Jay and Andrew were too upset to speak on camera, instead, their solicitor read out a statement.

The hospital says it is committed to 'learn all that they can' from his death

“We were overjoyed when we found we were expecting Freddie and were so excited that he would be part of our family.

“It’s difficult to put into the words the emotion of how what should have been one of the happiest moments of our lives turned to such despair.

“Freddie was such a fighter right until the end. While he was taken from us far too soon we feel so blessed that he was our boy.

“We knew the inquest and listening to the evidence regarding what happened to Freddie was going to be incredibly difficult but it was something we had to do in order to have answers to our many questions as well as honour his memory.

“Nothing will ever make up for the pain of losing Freddie, but we just hope that by speaking out we can raise awareness of what we’ve been through to help other families.

Following the hearing, Emma Rush, the expert medical negligence lawyer said: “Understandably Jay and Andrew have been left devastated by Freddie’s death and the particularly harrowing events surrounding his birth. 

“Jay and Andrew have had a number of concerns about what happened and sadly the inquest has heard worrying evidence as to the care the family received.

“While nothing can make up for their ordeal we’re pleased that we’ve at least been able to provide the family with the answers they deserve.

“It’s now vital that the Trust reviews its procedures and training for staff to improve patient care for others.  

“We’ll continue to support Jay and Andrew at this distressing time to help them access the specialist support they need to try and come to terms with Freddie’s death the best they can.” 

Investigators at the inquest made a number of recommendations in a report submitted to the inquest, including giving staff more training and it was recognised that the hospital had taken steps to implement those recommendations.

In a statement, the hospital said: “We are committed to learning all we can from this. The coroner was satisfied with the progress that the Trust had made in implementing the recommendations of the healthcare safety inspection board, including the provision of a second emergency theatre team.

“We will ensure that they are embedded in our practice for the future.”