THE DISTRAUGHT parents of a baby girl who died eight hours after birth are seeking answers from Southend Hospital.

Simon and Mary-Jayne Harrison were looking forward to meeting their daughter Jessica - a little sister to Rebecca, now 20 months.

However complications during labour meant Jessica was born not breathing and had inhaled meconium - a baby’s first stool passed when in distress in the womb. She also had a second infection from the placenta.

Jessica had to be revived but died eight hours later.

Mr and Mrs Harrison’s grief has turned to angry as they feel warning signs of their baby being in distress weren’t taken seriously by staff and they waited so long for an emergency caesarean section Jessica instead arrived by forceps delivery.

Mrs Harrison, 28, said: “The cord was around her neck and she had inhaled meconium so it was pouring from her nose and mouth.

“If the caesarean section had been done at 3am when we signed the papers or earlier if they’d listened to our concerns about the warning bleeps on the monitor my daughter would have stood more of a chance to fight the infections.”

Mr Harrison, 29, a teacher at St Thomas More School, said: “The monitor was flashing up concerns but we were told there might be something wrong with the machine and they reset it.

“They should’ve taken it more seriously. Though the waters broke at 8pm and there was no sign of meconium, the monitors and also Mary-Jayne’s high temperature were indications of a problem.”

Mrs Harrison was told her fever was a side effect of the epidural but she had no problem with her first child.

Her husband added: “There must be a point where they have to take all these problems seriously.”

An emergency caesarean was decided at 3am but another woman considered more urgent was admitted to theatre first.

The parents, from Leigh, were told a second theatre could be opened if there was no more progress in an hour but nothing happened until 6am when Mrs Harrison needed to push.

Staff worked for half an hour to get Jessica breathing and she was rushed to the special care baby unit but they were warned she may be brain dead or severely brain damaged.

Her parents made the heartbreaking decision to turn off Jessica’s life support machine at 3.15pm on September 30 last year. She weighed a healthy 7lbs 12oz.

Mr Harrison said: “We were distraught. Jessica should’ve survived if things were taken seriously and they had acted sooner.”

Mrs Harrison said: “It was so unexpected. She was a healthy baby.

“This Christmas was horrible but we had to make it special for Rebecca.

“I went to a cold grave to see my baby girl when it should’ve been her first Christmas.

”I feel so sad for Rebecca to never know her sister. It’s so wrong.”

Sue Hardy director of nursing at Southend Hospital said: ““We fully understand the distress the loss of a baby brings and once again offer our sincerest condolences to Mr and Mrs Harrison in their grief following the death of baby Jessica.

"The family have met with our clinical teams and our head of midwifery and we will continue to support and advise them during this very difficult pre-inquest period.”