Heartbreaking ‘barbaric’ details emerge of baby death at scandal-hit hospital

A grieving mum has recalled how she begged medics to keep trying to save her son’s life when he died minutes after his ‘barbaric’ birth at a scandal-hit hospital.

Tragic tot Freddie was in the breech position and was delivered foot first at North Devon District Hospital where around 20 maternity deaths or serious harm cases have been linked.

His heartbroken mum Charlotte Barnett told an inquest today, December 14, at Exeter’s County Hall, that midwives were told by a doctor to push on her stomach in an effort to deliver her son naturally despite his position.

Charlotte’s mum Daphne Bickell was with her daughter and told the inquest that as medical staff tried to deliver Freddie the scene looked ‘barbaric.’

Charlotte, then 30, said in a statement to the coroner that the midwives panicked and pressed the emergency button.

She said a doctor in scrubs rushed into her room and examined her and thought Freddie was breached, despite earlier assurances that he was no longer breeched and was head down.

She said a second doctor came into the room and one said ‘is the theatre free’ to which the reply was ‘yes’.

Charlotte said the doctor said there were two options – a natural birth or an emergency caesarian section – but before she could answer midwives had put her legs in stirrups.

Charlotte said: “He did not tell me about the risks. If the risks had been explained I would have had a C section…even if it had risked my life.”

She recalled being in excruciating pain as the harrowing ordeal continued as baby Freddie’s head was stuck and she claimed the doctor shouted at the midwives to ‘push my stomach’.

Freddie was delivered and immediately taken to a trolley before his mum could see him on June 26, 2017.

A paediatric nurse returned to the room to say they had done everything they could to save Freddie, and Charlotte screamed at them to ‘keep trying’.

A nurse then told her Freddie had died and he was brought over for Charlotte to hold him and she said she was ‘absolutely inconsolable’.

She claimed the doctor put his hand on her arm and said: “I know how you feel, my wife had a stillborn. I was heartbroken. Freddie was not stillborn.

“He did not even say he was sorry for what had happened.”

Mrs Bickell also told the inquest midwives ‘panicked’ when Freddie’s foot emerged.

Charlotte, from Westward Ho!, said she had given birth to her first two children naturally without any problems.

A 2017 review at the hospital raised ‘serious questions’ about maternity care at the Barnstaple-based hospital.

An investigation by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2017 expressed concerns with the ‘decision making and clinical competency’ of senior doctors and their co-operation with midwives.

An independent review into midwifery in October 2017 noted ‘poor communication’ between medical staff on the ward for more than a decade.

The report identified a ‘lack of trust and respect’ between staff and anxiety among senior midwives at the quality of care.

The inquest is due to last four days and continues.