Mother whose baby died after hospital mistook labour pains for constipation receives NHS payout

A mother whose baby died when doctors mistook her labour pains for constipation has received a payout from the NHS.

In severe agony, on 7 July 2014, Joanne Farrar, 41, was rushed to hospital days before her planned C-section.  

Doctors claimed the pains were a result of an infection and constipation. One dismissed her as a “time-waster”.

Ms Farrar decided to go to the toilet to prove she wasn’t constipated and her labour was confirmed after she passed blood at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Ava was born later in the day, but two hours later she had to be transferred to Royal Oldham Hospital after suffering seizures.

It was later revealed that she had severe brain damage and Joanne and husband James were forced to make the decision to turn off their baby daughter’s life support machine on 12 July 2014.

A post-mortem revealed that she had been deprived of oxygen and despite concluding that she died of natural causes, a coroner criticised the hospital for failing to consider “the most blindly obvious point” that Joanne was in labour.

Ms Farrar, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, has now received a undisclosed payout and apology from the hospital.


Joanne and her partner made the agonising decision to turn off their daughter’s life support

She said: “I did everything I was told by hospital staff, so was stunned when I had some issues with them. At one point I overheard a doctor refusing to examine me and calling me a ‘time-waster’, while it was also suggested that I have a natural birth despite the issues with my previous pregnancies. It was an incredibly upsetting time.

“Having had two children already, I knew what I was experiencing was undoubtedly labour. I managed to get myself to hospital and told the doctors and midwives, but they claimed it was just a urinary tract infection.

“To make matters worse, when tests came back clear I was then told I was constipated and given medication for it. I was in utter disbelief as no one was listening to me.

“We faced the decision of having to turn Ava’s life support off and it was the hardest thing that James and I have ever done. I felt like I had given up on my baby and remain devastated that I had to do it in the first place.

“I cannot help but think that if I had been treated somewhere other than Stepping Hill this may not have happened. Ava was never given a chance at life and to spend time with her brother and sister and this remains incredibly hard to take.

“All I wish is that someone had taken me seriously and listened to what I was saying.”

Ms Farrar was considered to be a high-risk pregnancy, having had to give birth to her first child Bobby, nine, by emergency caesarean.

Her second child Izzy, six, was born by planned caesarean, and she had planned to give birth to Ava by the same method on July 12 2014.

Her waters ruptured 30 weeks into the pregnancy, and she was required to go to monitoring twice a week to monitor the health of her and her child.

In a letter, Ann Barnes, chief executive of the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, told Joanne: “I deeply regret that the standard of care that your daughter received was inadequate and I would like to take this time to express my deepest sympathy on the loss of your daughter and the distress that this and subsequent investigations have caused you and your family.”

A spokesperson for the trust added: “We failed to provide a reasonable standard of antenatal care for Joanne and baby Ava and for that we are deeply sorry. We launched an immediate investigation afterwards, to ensure that something like this does not happen again. We would like to take this opportunity to repeat our sincere apologies, sympathy and condolences.”


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