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Couple wins five-figure sum from NHS following death of baby daughter
5:20am Thursday 10th April 2014 in News
A devastated couple have won an out of court settlement from the NHS following the death of their baby daughter.
Layla Wiggins was just three days old when she lost her short fight for life at St Richard's Hospital in Chichester.
Her parents Jeff Wiggins and Caroline Jones took legal action against Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust because of concerns over care provided during Ms Jones' labour.
The action was not contested by the trust, and the couple have been awarded a five-figure sum in compensation.
The couple, from West Wittering, had been expecting their first baby in December 2011, but the birth was overdue.
Ms Jones was admitted to St Richard's when her waters eventually broke.
She noticed the presence of a green tar-like liquid, meconium, which is usually a sign that the baby is in distress.
The couple said a monitor showed the baby's heart rate was worryingly low, though several senior staff reviewed it and took no action.
Layla’s heart rate continued to fall and it was decided to carry out an emergency caesarean.
She was limp and blue when she was born and it was an hour before she took her first breath.
The youngster was transferred to the specialist baby unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth for further treatment but she did not improve.
There was nothing more medics could do and the baby was returned to St Richard's where she was looked after until she died.
An internal investigation carried out into Layla's death concluded there had been a lack of leadership during Ms Jones' labour and a lack of senior ongoing contact with her.
There was also nobody to whom less senior staff could express their concerns.
Medical negligence lawyer Oliver Thorne, of Exeter-based Michelmores, handled the case for the parents.
He said: “Caroline and Jeff understandably suffered severe emotional trauma after Layla’s death.
“The failings at the hospital were unacceptable and shouldn’t have happened.
“However, it’s to the trust's credit that they settled the case early.
“I hope though that this tragic case isn’t forgotten. Extra training and scrutiny of operational policies as well as the issues addressed by the rust's own report are vital if a recurrence is to be avoided.”
Trust director of nursing and patient safety, Cathy Stone, said: “This is an extremely sad case, and we apologised to the family at the time. I would like to repeat that apology now.
“We came to a settlement immediately because we did not wish to put the family through any more distress. Such cases are thankfully extraordinarily rare, but truly devastating for those affected.
“Since 2011 we have made changes to the training of our staff, and looked again at how we communicate with parents facing the loss of a child.”
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