Baby died after delays in care while 'midwives joked about Haribo and discussed pay'

Baby Theo Bradley fighting for life
-Credit: (Image: Mirror)

A baby died after midwives joked about Haribos and discussed their earnings, an inquest heard. Theo Bradley tragically died after being starved of oxygen, with an inquest hearing about delays in his care at King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottingham in September 2023.

His mother, Amelia Bradley, 26, said she called for help in agony several times, only to overhear maternity personnel casually chatting nearby. She said one said: "I can't believe how many Haribos I've had tonight."

The inquest also heard numerous midwives were sitting around near the reception, when Amelia should have been promptly assessed within quarter of an hour of her arrival at hospital. For the latest health and Covid news, sign up to our newsletter here

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When it was recognised she had not been seen to, one midwife on duty admitted making a comment about a colleague earning more money than her due to working a bank shift, it was claimed. A full 40 minutes later, the mum and son duo were finally assessed, despite the fact there was no other triage patient and Amelia continuously expressed worry she was bleeding, the Mirror has reported.

Theo was found to have a slow heartrate and a decision for a category one caesarean ensued. However, after Theo was born, the required resuscitation equipment was missing from the unit, and Theo was taken to a specialist neonatal unit for further treatment.

Theo Bradley's family
Theo Bradley's family -Credit:Mirror

Baby Theo's condition worsened, and he passed away in his parents' arms surrounded by loved ones. A post-mortem examination revealed that he suffered a severe brain injury due to oxygen deprivation.

This week, an inquest at Nottingham Coroner's Court reached a narrative conclusion, with Nottinghamshire assistant coroner Elizabeth Didcock concluding that neglect had played a part in Theo's death.

The assistant coroner determined that had Theo been delivered sooner, it is likely he would have survived. Amelia and her partner Luke Sherwood, 26, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, are now calling for lessons to be learned following the tragedy.

Amelia, who has decided to apply to start a midwifery degree starting in September, said: "Following Theo's death, Luke and I discussed how we wouldn't ever want another family to have to go through what we're going through. I want to honour Theo's name and to use this awful experience to be an advocate for women and help deliver the best care and support that women should expect to receive."

Baby Theo in hospital where he died after complications during his birth
Baby Theo in hospital where he died after complications during his birth -Credit:Mirror

She added: "To lose Theo so soon after he came into the world is something we'll never get over. We'd been looking forward to becoming a family and to have that ripped away from us in such a cruel way was nothing short of traumatic.

"To this day, I still wake up and hope it's all been a nightmare and then it hits me and I'm completely floored by the grief. Knowing that our baby boy will never even celebrate his first birthday is so difficult to come to terms with.

"Hearing everything again at the inquest has been unbearable, but we're grateful to have some answers now. We would do anything to bring Theo back, but we know that's not possible.

"All we can hope for now is that no other families have to go through the heartbreak we have. I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

Amelia and Luke had attended King's Mill Hospital at around 9.30pm on September 13 last year after her contractions started. The couple waited for over an hour to be seen before Amelia was given pain relief and underwent a sweep and was allowed home at around 11.30pm.

Just after midnight Amelia started passing blood and experiencing unbearable pain and they returned to hospital, where Amelia was finally assessed at 1.42am before Theo was delivered at 2.02am.

A Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) report discovered that there was no allocated lead in the maternity triage department, so nobody had responsibility for assigning roles and managing workload. Both present triage midwives did not take responsibility on who would see Amelia upon her return to hospital, causing unnecessary delays in the required rapid assessment.

An obstetrician from the trust said that Amelia's symptoms should have triggered an immediate assessment. The report added that a tragic 29-minute delay in administering resuscitation medicines and blood products to Theo may have affected the outcome.

The obstetrician also informed the coroner that had Amelia been assessed promptly that it was more likely than not that baby Theo would have survived.

Laura Robinson, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said after the hearing: "It's less than a year since Theo died, and losing him so suddenly and in such traumatic circumstances continues to have a profound effect on Amelia and Luke.

"The pain and grief they feel has been made worse by the questions they had around the events that unfolded in the lead up to their baby boy's death. While nothing will ever make up for what Amelia and Luke are going through, we're pleased to have at least been able to provide them with some of the answers they deserve.

"Sadly, however, the inquest has identified issues in the care prior to Theo's death, especially around communication, training among maternity staff, and staff culture. Every second counts when delivering a baby in distress.

"It's now vital that lessons are learned to help improve maternity safety and prevent other mums and dads from suffering the way Amelia and Luke have. We'll continue to support them at this difficult time."

Sherwood Forest Hospitals' Chief Nurse, Phil Bolton said: "I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our unreserved apology to the family of baby Theo at what we know has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult time for them. Only the individuals involved that night truly know why Theo and his family did not receive the care they needed and deserved, and I am clear that we have failed to live up to the high standards of care that our communities are right to expect from their local hospitals.

"We have gone through a thorough HR process following Theo's death to take decisive action and appropriate actions have been taken. We will take the Coroner's findings on board and will continue working with Theo's family to do all we can to prevent this from happening again."