A four-day-old baby died after a series of failings at a scandal-hit NHS trust where 15 babies have lost their lives since 2011.
A hearing was held to determine how Archie Powell, who had a bowel problem and actually suffered from a group-B streptococcus infection in Margate at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital.
The coroner said that if he had been administered antibiotics sooner, he might have survived.
‘Everything’s been taken away from our entire family’, said his mother Dawn Powell who gave birth to the healthy baby boy at the hospital, part of East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in February 2019. Within hours, the newborn started intermittently grunting – a sign of possible respiratory problems.
Archie’s midwife alerted on-call physicians, but they did not reply. Archie finally got examined after being ignored by two additional requests.
Inquests revealed that Archie Powell, who was actually suffering from group B streptococcus infections at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital Margate in Kent, received treatment for a bowel problem.
‘Everything’s been taken away from our entire family’, said his mother Dawn Powell who gave birth to the healthy baby boy at the hospital, part of East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in February 2019. Within hours, the newborn started intermittently grunting – a sign of possible respiratory problems
However, the inquest heard that the reports of grunting were not acted upon and further delays in transferring Archie to the hospital’s special care baby unit meant he was not given life-saving antibiotics until several hours later.
By that time ‘the die had been cast, it was too late to make a difference to Archie’, Catherine Wood, Kent assistant coroner concluded.
Archie passed away at the age of four, despite being later transferred to London.
Miss Wood described a number of poor decisions and delays as ‘missed opportunities’. ‘If he had been given antibiotics before noon, on the balance of probabilities, Archie would have survived,’ she said.
Speaking after the inquest, Archie’s parents said they ‘couldn’t forgive’ the errors made by the hospital’s management and doctors.
Mrs Powell said: ‘The only chance we have, not to see him exactly, is to visit his grave every week and to look at photos. That’s all we’ve got left. It’s indescribable.’
The trust, which is at the centre of an independent investigation into maternity care, failed to inform the coroner of Archie’s death at the time. It has since issued an apology to Archie’s parents.
Sarah Shingler, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, said: ‘We recognise we could and should have done things differently for Archie and we apologise unreservedly for failing him and his family.’
The Care Quality Commission conducted unannounced inspections and found that there was not enough maternity staff in the Trust to protect mothers and their babies.
‘Since his death, we have made a number of changes in the service – to clinical practice and to staff training,’ Miss Shingler added.