A BABY died from picking up an infection in the womb after her mother was kept waiting three-and-a-half hours for an unplanned Caesarian section.

Jessica Harrison died at Southend Hospital on September 30 at just eight-hours-old after she inhaled infected material before her birth which caused aspiration pneumonia.

A two-day inquest, at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court on Wednesday and Thursday, heard that Jessica’s mother Mary- Jayne, of Woodleigh Avenue, Leigh, was waiting for one specialist at the hospital, in Prittlewell Chase, who was dealing with another birth.

An extra consultant, who was available, was not called in to help.

Questioning Pauline Moore, the midwife in charge of coordinating staff that night, assistant coroner Yvonne Blake asked: “Women give birth at inconvenient times.

You must have called for help at inconvenient times before, why didn’t you call for help on this occasion?”

Mrs Moore replied: “Because we hoped for a good outcome.”

Ms Blake then said: “What you’re saying to me is the only reason for not calling the oncall consultant is that you thought it would be all right?”

The co-ordinator didn't visit Mrs Harrison but relied on data from scan reports as to her condition.

Mary-Jayne went into labour at about 9.40pm on September 29, 2012.

By 3am, the pregnancy had not progressed at adequate speed, and Dr Fozia Malik, the specialist registrar, decided to send her for a Caesarian.

However, he was then sent into theatre to help a woman who had been fully dilated for two hours, was not on pain killers and overweight.

By 4am, Mary-Jayne was showing signs she was suffering from an infection and was given antibiotics and paracetamol through a drip.

She waited until about 6am before she was seen by Dr Malik again, by which time it was too late to perform a Caesarian and Jessica was born at about 6.30am by forceps delivery.

Baby Jessica showed signs of inhaling meconium, a stool which is passed when a baby is in distress in the womb.

Doctors tried to get her breathing on her own.

However, they were unable to help her survive longer than eight hours. She had no other underlying health issues.

Dr Malik and two midwives told the inquest with hindsight they would have acted differently, but said Mrs Harrison didn’t appear to be an emergency case and the other birth took longer than expected.

Mrs Harrison, questioning Dr Malik, said: “Three-and-ahalf hours, I think that’s too long, so much could be done in that time.”

She replied: “I wouldn’t have planned three-and-a-half hours, but there was an emergency. I was tied up elsewhere.”

The inquest also heard evidence suggesting a speedier delivery may not have helped Jessica.

Pathologist Michael Ashworth said: “The infection must have been picked up from the umbilical chord in the womb, so it was before birth, but I am unable to say if it was hours, days or whatever period.”


JESSICA'S heartbroken parents claim Southend Hospital got it all wrong when it came to their care.

Mary-Jayne and her husband Simon, spoke out about the care they received as assistant coroner Yvonne Blake recorded a narrative verdict at the inquest into Jessica’s death.

Mr Harrison said: “I can’t stop the sequence of events playing in my mind, as to what we could have done to prevent it. If interventions were made earlier, my opinion is Jessica would be with us today.”

Mrs Harrison said: “I feel Dr Malik took on too much. The woman before me was an emergency, but so was I, so was Jessica – the baby I carried around and felt kick for nine months, whom I let her sister talk to. It breaks my heart that she will never meet her sister.”

She added: “I’m disturbed that I never met the co-ordinator until she was here (at the inquest) speaking.

“I never met her, yet she played such an important role.

“I’m outraged that, despite everything, she never came to see for herself her patient. She just relied on computer screens.”

Mr Harrison added: “If I knew people were concerned, people were upset, people were trying to put a case across that there was some concern, I would have stepped in. I would’ve have used as much of my argumentative power as possible to push and push for that second theatre to be opened."

Southend Hospital has made changes since the tragedy - including giving midwives more encouragement to "escalate" cases if they are worried about the women involved.

Jessica's delivery is now used as a case study in training.