Manchester: Little girl might have survived if mother hadn’t been ‘neglected’

Amy Harrison in the hospital, Amy when she was pregnant, next to Jamie.

Amy and Jamie Harrison took legal action after losing their baby in 2020 (Images: MEN Media)

A hospital that allegedly left a mother alone in labor for hours has admitted doctors may have been able to save her stillborn baby.

Amy Harrison says the loss of her baby daughter Harper had an “absolutely disastrous impact on her life” in the wake of the 2020 tragedy.

She was days overdue when she was admitted to the Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester on May 18.

At first “nothing happened”, but the now 30-year-old went into labor after a few hours. This lasted all night and into the next day.

Concerned about her baby’s lack of exercise, Amy asked staff to check to see if anything was wrong – but told her it wasn’t necessary as she had been checked two hours earlier.

The Covid pandemic meant her husband Jamie was unable to be with her in hospital leaving her alone.

She said: “My contractions kept getting stronger. I got quite emotional because I was alone and in a lot of pain.

Amy went a second full night without giving birth and barely slept because she was in labor “every few minutes.”

No one came to check on her progress after 11 p.m. that night, she claims.

Amy in the hospital.

Amy said her whole birthing experience was a “nightmare” (Image: MEN Media)

Amy when she was pregnant with Jamie's hand on her stomach.

The mother-to-be was left alone in the hospital due to Covid rules (Image: MEN Media)

She said: “I came out to ask for paracetamol and went back into the room — that was the only interaction I had.”

The next day, May 20th, the staff changed and Amy asked why she felt more contractions but less movement from the baby.

When she explained how long she had been left alone, the midwife “puckered her face.”

“I knew right away that something was wrong,” Amy said.

The midwife “moved the monitor around” for years before calling a more experienced worker for help.

They eventually called a sonographer, who broke the devastating news that Amy’s baby daughter, Harper, had died. Jamie was only able to come to his wife’s side after that.

It later emerged that the hospital staff didn’t properly update Amy’s notes, meaning it showed she was a day less overdue than she really was. This mistake meant she was never transferred to a labor ward to make any progress.

Amy felt she “couldn’t go through the process of giving birth to Harper naturally” and opted for a cesarean instead.

Jamie and Amy with their arms around each other.

Amy has spoken out to encourage other moms to speak up if they’re uncomfortable (Picture: MEN Media)

She claims she was told “most women in your situation do this naturally”.

“I didn’t care what other people did. The whole process was a nightmare,” she said.

Amy described the staff’s support after her loss as “amazing” but added “it doesn’t make up for the lack of care”.

The North Rochdale couple launched a legal battle against the hospital in the months following their heartbreaking loss.

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust conducted its own internal inquiry and another was launched by the Health Care Safety Investigations Unit.

The hospital itself concluded: “If the condition of the fetus had been adequately monitored, then, considering all probabilities, abnormalities would have occurred in the period leading up to the death of the fetus. This would have resulted in an earlier delivery where Harper would have been born alive.’

Meanwhile, the Trust admitted Amy should have been transferred to a maternity ward and that staff inaccurately recorded her medical records.

The hospital had reduced staff and was under pressure but was not communicating effectively or monitoring the well-being of Amy and her baby, the Trust noted.

Additionally, several physical exams were not performed when they should have been, and there was a “failure to adequately, or at all, monitor the well-being of Amy and the fetus” — including the baby’s heart rate during labor.

A general view of the signage and buildings at The Royal Oldham Hospital.

The trust, which runs the Royal Oldham Hospital, has issued a “sincere apology” (Image: Getty)

Amy wants her experience to encourage other women to speak up when they feel something is wrong.

“I never felt like I could do that, especially as a first-time mom,” she said. “You know your own body so well – if you’re uncomfortable, say something”.

The trust has “sincerely apologized” “for the failures in care during Harper’s birth.”

A statement added: “We also once again extend our heartfelt condolences to you for the devastating loss of your beloved baby.

“A major program of work to continually improve our maternity services is underway and we remain fully committed to it. Learning from past safety failures coupled with listening and acting on our patients’ experiences is critical to ensuring our maternity services are fully person and family centered.

“Progress has already been made as part of our Maternity Improvement Plan, with this work focusing on improved obstetric training and fetal monitoring, safer staffing, and the recruitment and retention of our midwives.”

Amy walks 310,000 steps in October to raise money for the Sands charity, which supports everyone affected by the death of a baby.

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Justin Scacco

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