Natalie calls for immediate action on baby deaths

This evening Natalie called for “immediate action” to improve East Kent maternity services and for coroners to be given powers to investigate stillbirths – following the tragic death of baby Tallulah-Rai Edwards.

Tallulah-Rai died a year ago in January 2019, less than 48 hours after her mother was discharged by a midwife having raised concerns about Tallulah-Rai’s lack of movement in the womb.

Her mother Shelley Russell from Aycliffe, Dover, attended Buckland Hospital 36 weeks into the pregnancy. Shelley was in a higher risk category having miscarried before.

Shelley says that during the monitoring process the midwife left her at times in the sole care of a student nurse, who had difficulties getting a reliable reading. Even though no reliable reading could be obtained, the midwife decided to stop monitoring, sign it off noting the defective and poor-quality of the reading, and discharge mother and baby.

Tallulah-Rai Edwards died 48 hours later from hypoxia – suffocating to death in the womb due to lack of oxygen.

Dover & Deal MP Natalie Elphicke met with Tallulah-Rai’s parents last week. This evening Natalie raised the case in a speech to the House of Commons, telling fellow MPs: “Tallulah-Rai’s parent Nicholas and Shelley know that nothing can bring back their daughter. But they want changes to law and to the administration of healthcare to be undertaken to ensure no other parent suffers an unnecessary loss.

“This cannot wait for a lengthy public inquiry – it needs action now.

“The Trust needs to stop hiding behind paperwork and process. It should take responsibility right now.”

Tallulah-Rai’s parents have also called for major changes in the way the trust runs maternity services.

Shelley Russell said: “Tallulah-Rai’s first birthday would have been today. We bought her a little dress which unfortunately she will never get to wear. All we’ve got is dreams – and what we’ve made in our hearts.

“We urge any parent who’s pregnant at this time that they go to their nearest hospital and insist and insist that they are checked.

“Some of the hospital staff were amazing. Some unfortunately were not. We just want to see improvement across the board so no other parent has to go through what we have.”

Mrs Elphicke warned the Commons that Talluah-Rai’s case was one of many. Last week, the inquest of Harry Richford concluded. Harry’s death at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) seven days after he was born was described to be “wholly avoidable”.

It was revealed at least seven preventable baby deaths may have occurred at the East Kent Hospitals Trust since 2016.

Natalie is demanding that health chiefs come clean on how many avoidable deaths have occurred in East Kent Hospitals. She said: “We need to know how many avoidable deaths have taken place in our local hospital maternity services – and the action that is being taken to make immediate improvements.

“There can be no cover up – it’s time for health chiefs to level with our community.”

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