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Dead baby’s delivery “indefensible”


21 April, 2008  

Hospital staff missed 30 warning signs which could have saved a baby’s life, it has been reported.

Alwyn Callaway died two days after his birth at Watford General Hospital – but his life could have been saved if medics had intervened to deliver him five hours earlier, according to the Daily Mail.

Alwyn suffered a failing heart, evidence of which was recorded in medical notes and reported to senior staff 11 times in seven hours, yet no-one understood his life was in danger.

The warnings were recorded on a heart monitor – known as a cardiotachograph (CTG) – and a specialist registrar even used the recording of Alwyn’s heart rate as an example of a normal labour as he taught a student, oblivious to the fact the baby was being fatally brain damaged, the newspaper said.

The Health Service Ombudsman for England condemned the way Alwyn’s mother Lisa’s labour was managed as “indefensible”, blaming a “system failure”.

An independent expert quoted by the Ombudsman said: “It is difficult to avoid the clear conclusion that the most important test of foetal wellbeing – the CTG – was actually giving all the clues needed about foetal condition but that this was simply not recognised by those looking after Mrs Callaway.”

The Callaways agreed to an out-of-court settlement with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust last year for a substantial amount.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

The Health Service Ombudsman for England