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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Parents to sue Birmingham hospital after baby's death

7th November 2008

The parents of a premature baby who died from a ruptured liver are to take legal action against a Birmingham hospital trust.

Terry Forster was born by caesarean section 13 weeks prematurely at Sandwell Hospital last July, but died 13 hours later.

After his birth, he was transferred to a neonatal unit at City Hospital, in Winson Green, better equipped to deal with premature babies. It was here doctors discovered bleeding in Terry’s abdomen, but surgeons were unable to operate as the necessary equipment for such a delicate operation was only available at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

However the baby was too poorly to be transferred.

His parents Kerry Morris and Robert Forster, from West Bromwich, were said to be “disappointed” with the natural causes verdict reached by Birmingham Coroner Aidan Cotter.

The family’s solicitor Caroline Stokes said: “Kerry Morris and Robert Forster have been devastated by the death of their son Terry. Whilst the inquest established some of the circumstances surrounding Terry’s tragic death, many questions remain unanswered.

“In particular, Kerry and Robert remain concerned about the decision to deliver Terry at Sandwell Hospital, the competence of the medical staff performing his intubation and reintubation, and the apparent delay in arranging to transfer Terry to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for surgery.”

In a letter to Mr Cotter, which was read out at Birmingham Coroner’s Court, Ms Morris said: “When asked how long my baby had been bleeding, Dr Simmonds said it seemed to have been some time before he arrived at City Hospital, as it had shown up on an X-ray.

“But Dr Simmonds said he could not answer for other doctors as to why doctors at Sandwell had not seen the bleed in my baby’s tummy from the X-ray that they did.

“Dr Simmonds said what was happening to my baby was very unusual, my baby was not dying from any normal premature condition.”

Mr Cotter said: “I am satisfied that the decision to deliver Terry at Sandwell was the right one. Transferring Kerry posed the risk of losing both mother and son on the way to City.

“It was a hard decision to make but I think it was the right one.”

A spokeswoman for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The death of any baby is very tragic and we understand that this is a difficult time for Terry’s family. Our sympathies are with them.

“The coroner has supported the findings of our own investigation that found that the decision to deliver baby Terry at Sandwell was the correct decision and that the subsequent transfer to the more specialised neonatal unit at City Hospital did not play any part in his sad death. The coroner also emphasised that the clinical care provided to Terry was not to blame.

“We believe our staff made the best possible decisions in very difficult circumstances. Their actions, particularly those of the transfer team, were praised by the coroner.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of natural causes.

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