Premature baby 'died alone in sluice room' at British hospital

A review found long-term failures had caused "significant harm to women"

Premature baby 'died alone in sluice room' at British hospital

North Manchester General Hospital in Britain | Image: Martin Rickett PA Archive/PA Images

A premature baby was left to die alone in a sluice room at a hospital in Britain plagued by clinical errors and bad staff attitudes, a report has revealed.

The child was born, just 22 weeks and six days into the pregnancy - and lived for almost two hours.

But staff involved with her care did not find a "quiet place" for the child's mother to nurse her as she died.

She had been born just before the legal age of viability, meaning she could not be resuscitated.

A review into the Pennine Acute Hospital NHS Trust, which operates the North Manchester General and Royal Oldham hospitals, found long-term failures had caused "significant harm to women", while poor standards on maternity wards resulted in "high levels of harm for babies in particular".

Several deaths were linked to staff shortages - including a baby who died because antenatal staff had failed to identify the mother's rare blood type.

In another incident, a mother died from a "catastrophic haemorrhage" after staff ignored the symptoms of hypoxia, a condition caused by lack of oxygen, and instead assumed she had mental health issues.

"Worrying repetitive themes" were found across the trust's maternity department, including failures to monitor basic vital signs and poor documentation.

Crucial lab results were left unchecked, while important information was left off patient records.

A "rigid mindset" also meant staff tended to regard patients' conditions as "uncomplicated", and safety procedures were regularly breached.

There were high numbers of agency workers owing to staff shortages, but they were insufficiently monitored for their performance.

The internal review, conducted by the new maternity director at the NHS trust, only came to light following a Freedom of Information request by the Manchester Evening News.

It is alleged that the trust had tried to suppress the report, and at one point claimed it did not exist.

Between 2010 and 2015, the trust received more legal claims than any other trust and paid out a total of stg£25m in damages. Half of them were related to care failings for mothers and babies.

The Pennine Acute Hospital NHS Trust now says improvements are being made to ensure patients receive "reliable, high-quality care" across all of its services.

Professor Matthew Makin, the trust's medical director, added: "In addition to the appointment of a new head of midwifery, 31 new midwives started in post across out two maternity units at North Manchester and Oldham last month."

He explained that 58 new midwives have joined the trust since April, and said the organisation was making progress in involving staff to address the "long-standing problems and challenges facing our teams".