Diana became pregnant for the first time in July 1999 with a delivery date in April 2000. On 30 March, Diana’s waters broke and contractions began. She was advised to go to the Petersfield Hospital where she arrived at about 3.00am the following morning.
Diana was seen by a midwife, who was unsure about the baby’s presentation. Suddenly the baby’s feet and bottom were delivered.
The midwife performed an episiotomy without anaesthetic, but still was unable to deliver Diana’s baby. Urgent arrangements were made to transfer Diana to St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth.
The baby was delivered at 5:37am in poor condition and died the following day at St. Mary’s. Diana had to undergo repair of a third degree tear to her perineum.
Unsurprisingly, she suffered severe long-term psychiatric distress in connection with the traumatic birth, delivery and loss of her son.
Liability was only admitted by the hospital once proceedings had been served.
The claim alleged that there was negligence by the midwives as follows:
- failing to advise Diana that there were risks associated with having her delivery at the Petersfield Hospital, which was a community hospital with limited facilities
- failing to diagnose that Diana’s baby was in breach position prior to the onset of labour.
Had such steps been taken, Diana’s care would have been transferred to St Mary’s Hospital in the ante natal period.
This would have resulted in delivery of the baby by caesarean section. Diana would not have suffered the third degree tear and her baby would have been alive and well.
Samantha Critchley eventually settled the claim in November 2004 for £60,000. This is a high award in this type of case and reflects the significant psychiatric injury that Diana suffered.
The case was initially conducted with the assistance of public funding and thereafter on a no win no fee basis.
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