Advising with empathy and experience

1400 maternity errors each week in English hospitals.

On average, more than 1,400 mistakes, some of which have life-changing consequences, are recorded by maternity staff in English hospitals every week.

Adam Asquith, who, with his fiancé, Sarah Ellis, was expecting their first child in 2014, said: “Every day we have to live with the fact that we're a victim of the NHS."

Sarah said: "When I first fell pregnant, everything was amazing. We were over the moon.”

When she went into labour, the pair headed to Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, but Sarah was left waiting on a busy maternity ward, even though she told staff she was concerned she couldn't feel her baby moving.

She says: "We were left for six hours. We didn't really know anything. They just told us that everything was OK.” Their child, Gino, was finally delivered by caesarean section.

Adam says: "One of the doctors pulled me to one side and said: “He was born in a really bad condition, and if he does pull through, he's going to be very badly brain damaged.”

Gino was placed on a life-support machine but a few days later, Sarah and Adam were advised to withdraw treatment.

Sarah adds: "The words used were that he was 'unrecoverable' and that was when we knew he wasn't going to get any better. We had to make a joint decision that we would turn the machines off."

The inquest later showed Sarah should have been granted an emergency Caesarean section hours before this happened.

A report found medical staff had failed to act on warning signs and Gino had been severely starved of oxygen.

The coroner said the hospital had missed four opportunities to save Gino's life.

Sarah adds: "Everyone makes mistakes but to see so many people make so many different mistakes within six hours is just shocking. Gino's life was in their hands and they didn't take care of him."

Sarah and Adam decided to take legal action against the hospital trust and were paid compensation.

A Freedom of Information request found that an average of more than 1,400 mistakes a week were recorded in England's NHS maternity units between 2013 and 2016.

Figures from 81 NHS trusts out of the 132 in England showed 305,019 ‘adverse incidents’ had been recorded in the four-year period. The incidents are when there has been unexpected harm, injury or death and include anything from records being lost to a mother or baby dying.

Figures from 39 trusts, for the same four-year period, showed 259 deaths of mothers or babies had been recorded as avoidable or unexpected.

The then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the government had invested almost £40m since 2010 to make "tangible physical improvements" to maternity units.

The Royal College of Midwives says safety is being compromised by the pressure maternity services are under.

Chief executive of the college, Cathy Warwick, said: "The simple truth is we do not have enough midwives. We are also seeing more leaving the profession because of stress, and a slight reduction in the number of student midwives training.

"We need to reduce the number of mistakes to an absolute minimum. We can't deliver the safest possible care if we don't have enough midwives and doctors working here."