A BABY girl tragically died after nurses failed to track her heart rate properly, a coroner has said.
Little Poppy Russell passed away less than 12 hours after her birth on April 11 2021 at the Princess Royal Hospital in Shropshire.
Senior coroner John Ellery found the newborn died due to perinatal asphyxia, advanced by neglect from nursing staff.
It happens when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients before, during or right after birth.
A slow heart rate before delivery is a common symptom of the condition.
When it’s spotted, mothers can be given extra oxygen, or an emergency birth can be performed to get the baby out quickly.
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Following an inquest into Poppy’s death held earlier this month, the coroner released his findings, which said her death was “preventable”.
The coroner concluded had her abnormal heartbeat been spotted and she was delivered earlier she would have survived.
In a statement, Poppy’s parents, claimed the hospital tried to blame them for her death by saying she refused monitoring and testing.
Katie and Neil Russell, from Roddington denied the assertions and called them “unforgivable”.
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The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH), which has been the subject of a maternity services review, since admitted there had been failings in Poppy’s care.
Mr Ellery said monitoring Poppy’s heart rate was at the top of Katie’s birth plan and that it was “inconceivable that she would have changed her mind”.
He added that Poppy’s midwife “was dealing with a difficult and challenging situation” which is why she struggled to monitor the heart rate.
However, this inability to keep check of baby Poppy’s heart amounted to a “gross failure”.
“It was fundamental to Poppy’s safety and wellbeing. Therefore, it is self-evident that such a failure must be gross as the consequence is the highest,” he said.
“Drawing all this together, I reach the conclusion that Poppy s death was preventable,” he added.
In a statement sent to the BBC after the conclusion of the inquest, the parents said: “Throughout the process the trust has blamed us.
“This is unforgivable and we hope the coroner’s finding of neglect makes them reflect on the way the trust tried to hold us accountable for Poppy’s death.
“We will not stop until those individuals and those at the highest level are held to account for their hideous and systemic failures and continued strategy of covering up neonatal death.”
In response, the director of nursing at the Trust, Hayley Flavell, said: “We offer our deepest condolences to Mr and Mrs Russell for the loss of their daughter, Poppy.
“We recognise there were failings in the care we provided and we are truly sorry.
“The death of any baby is a tragedy, and when this happens we take urgent and appropriate action, working with external organisations as well as colleagues, to understand how we might have provided better care.
“We take any learnings, as individuals and as a service, and embed them within our practice.
“We have made clear improvements to our maternity services since 2021, with specific changes relating to fetal monitoring and record-keeping.
“There is further to go, but we remain committed to constant improvement, openness and transparency, and are working with women and families to provide the best and safest care possible.”
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Poppy’s death came four months after the interim Ockenden Report was published in December 2020, listing urgent and immediate improvements needed in maternity care at the Trust.
It found failures at the hospital trust contributed to the deaths of more than 200 babies – with a failure to monitor hearts properly a key factor in many losses.