"My son Joshua"

About: Furness General Hospital / Maternity

(as a relative),

The following is the story of my son, Joshua

Towards the end of October my wife had been feeling unwell for 2 or 3 days with a headache and sore throat. At around 9pm, her waters broke. This was nearly 3 weeks away from her due date. My mum advised us to phone the hospital which we did.

At the maternity ward we told the midwife that my wife was feeling unwell and described the symptoms very clearly. We repeatedly mentioned the illness and even discussed the concern that she may have caught something from our daughter, who had been very sick earlier in the week

We were given some advice and then discharged about an hour later and told to return anytime after 10am the next day.

With still no sign of labour the following day, at about 11.30am, we returned to the hospital. We explained that my wife was still feeling ill, tired and had a sore throat and headache.

At the hospital, she was monitored for contractions (still none) and given blood pressure and temperature checks. We were later discharged and told that if the contractions hadn’t started earlier to come back on Monday morning.

My wife started to have painful contractions at about 5.30am the next day. We phoned the ward and were told to wait until the contractions became more regular and intense. This seemed to happen very quickly. At about 6.15am we phoned and informed the ward that we were coming in.

We arrived at Furness General at about 6.30am. Her contractions were very painful and intense. At 7.38am, our son Joshua was born.

We may never truly understand what happened next, but in summary, not long after the birth, my wife collapsed with infection. Her temperature went to 39.2 and she developed rigours. She was given intravenous antibiotics and paracetamol and made a recovery over the next few hours. Although we were concerned for Joshua, we were reassured that he was fine. At around midday, we were transferred to the maternity ward. At this point we were told that the paediatrician had been contacted but they were ‘very busy’ but that Joshua would be monitored closely.

Through out the day and night, Joshua was monitored by various midwifes. He was mucousy, wheezy and reluctant to feed. We were told all these things were ‘normal.’ He had his temperature monitored and on several occasions his temperature was so low that he was placed on a heated cot to warm up. At one stage, he was placed on a headed cot and an overhead heater was placed directly over his body. At two o’clock in the morning, my wife rang the emergency bell by her bed because Joshua was making ‘grunting’ sounds and was breathing very rapidly. A midwife came and took Joshua out the room and returned him around 30 minutes later, again reassuring us that Joshua was fine.

At around 8am in the morning, my wife found Joshua collapsed in his cot, he was blue and saliva bubbles were coming out of his mouth. At this point, he was transferred to SCBU and was seen by a very shocked paediatrician for the first time.

Joshua had acquired the same infection as my wife. We now know that low temperature is an indicator of infection in neonates. Joshua spent 9 days fighting for his life but eventually died whilst receiving specialist intensive care in Newcastle. He died from internal bleeding from his left lung which had rotten due to his untreated infection. The consultant in Newcastle said that they had never seen lung necrosis in a neonate to the extent that Joshua endured.

Sadly, following Joshua death, his observation chart, which was the only record of his postnatal care, has been ‘lost’ and in my opinion the staff have not reported a truthful sequence of events.

Despite this, there have been many changes to the maternity service at FGH since Joshua died and I am confident that the unit is now a safe place for others to have a baby.

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