19/12/2007

Police Probe Hospital Baby Deaths

A second infant death at a local maternity hospital could have been avoided if steps had been taken to address the poor performance issues that came to light following an earlier tragedy.

Breda Hughes of the Royal College of Midwives said: "No learning was identified after the first incident, no measures were put in place that might have gone some way to preventing the second incident.

"That's a very hard pill for all of us to swallow."

She was commenting as an inquest this week heard allegations that a midwife at Antrim Area Hospital, Heather McComish, twice wrongly interpreted the read-out of a heart monitor – allegedly with fatal consequences on both occasions.

An inquest into the death of little Matthew White of Steeple Road, Antrim – who died from brain damage five days after being born last November - was adjourned on Monday when it emerged that the midwife concerned had been suspended and that a police investigation into the death of both that child and another baby is taking place.

The other tragic death involved four-day-old Paul O'Neill, who died a year earlier. His death was also caused by a brain injury.

During Paul's inquest, the court also heard claims that Mrs McComish wrongly interpreted the data from the heart monitor.

Another – unnamed - midwife, who was present the day Matthew White was born, has also been suspended from duties.

A spokesperson for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust told the BBC: "Trust policy is that once a serious incident has occurred a full investigation is conducted and the necessary action taken."

(BMcC)


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