Former Sully couple speak of heartbreak after hospital delay led to death of baby daughter
8:50am Friday 28th September 2012 in News
A FORMER Sully couple have criticised hospital chiefs for a two-hour delay which led to the death of their baby daughter.
An inquest at Aberdare Coroner's Court heard that Nicola and Ian Singleton were expecting twins following IVF treatment, four years after their 16-year-old son Josh died from a brain haemorrhage.
But 30 weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs Singleton was taken to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital with severe stomach pains.
Despite her condition worsening at the hospital, the inquest heard that staff failed to diagnose in time that her uterus had ruptured, and it took two hours before she underwent a caesarean section.
Baby boy Reuben was stillborn and his twin sister showed no sign of life.
Esme did start breathing after 22 minutes of resuscitation, but she had suffered severe brain damage and her parents agreed to switch off her life support machine the following day.
The inquest heard that warning signs were not picked up by midwives, even though Mrs Singleton was in great pain.
Consultant gynaecologist Hatel Tejura told the court: "There was no uterine activity and no sign of a foetal heartbeat. The alarm bells should have been ringing then."
The inquest heard how Mrs Singleton was initially admitted to the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff when the pains started in July 2009, but the maternity unit had no cots available and she was transferred to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital near Llantrisant, 10 miles away.
When she arrived there, midwives could only detect one heartbeat instead of the two there should have been.
Mr Singleton broke down in tears as he described seeing an ultra-sound of the twins before his wife's operation.
He said: "I could see that four heart valve chambers had stopped and the others were starting to slow."
Later he was told that Reuben had died and that Esme was "very poorly".
The inquest in Aberdare heard that the local Cwm Taf Health board had accepted failing in its standard of care, and had offered its profound apologies to the Singletons who were living in Sully at the time. They have since left the area.
Glamorgan coroner Louise Hunt recorded a narrative verdict.
"Esme was well at 12.40pm - it is most likely there was a critical event then with things changing radically but not being appreciated by the medical staff,” she said.
"They have acknowledged that today.
"Because it was not appreciated that she was in serious difficulties there was a considerable delay in doing a Caesarean section.
"Esme was not delivered for two hours - more than enough for the damage to have been done.
"She died from brain damage caused by the rupture which went undiagnosed in labour, resulting in delay in the delivery."
After the hearing the couple, now living in Swindon, told of their heartbreak and criticised hospital chiefs for what they called a ‘cavalier attitude’.
Mrs Singleton, 49, said: "This happened three years ago but the pain is still there and will never, ever go away.”
Her husband Ian, 50, a factory manager with Honda, said: "Heart monitoring showed that Esme was well at 12.40pm - if the operation had been performed then she would have been alive today.
"We feel that her death was a mixture of incompetence, negligence and a cavalier attitude."
The couple's solicitor Chris Inskip said: "Nicola and Ian have endured a difficult and traumatic time since the death of their twins.
"They sincerely hope that lessons have been learned from the tragedy, but the legal case against the hospital for negligence continues."
The health board said measures had been put in place to ensure a similar tragedy does not happen in the future.