Family share experience of twins' traumatic birth at Waikato Hospital

Hamilton mum Ashleigh Corkill with twin sons Jett (left) and Eli Cresswell. Ashleigh and her family say the management ...
MARK TAYLOR/STUFF

Hamilton mum Ashleigh Corkill with twin sons Jett (left) and Eli Cresswell. Ashleigh and her family say the management of Waikato Hospital's delivery suite put the twins' lives in danger. The boys survived the trauma and are now healthy.

A family who laid a complaint about the C-section birth of twin boys at Waikato Hospital say urgent changes could have saved the life of another baby.

The family of 16-month-old twins Jett and Eli Cresswell have spoken out following revelations a baby died at Waikato Hospital in September last year - three months after the twins' difficult birth.

Waikato DHB has declined to detail the circumstances of the baby's death but said an external review found several reasons for the tragedy.

In leaked documents, specialist anaesthetist Margot Rumball said mothers and babies' lives were repeatedly put at risk and accused Waikato Hospital managers of inaction.

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Shirley Cresswell said her family raised serious concerns about the management of the hospital's delivery suite following the birth of her twin grandsons Jett and Eli on May 12 last year.

Cresswell said daughter-in-law Ashleigh Corkill was scheduled to deliver the twins via an emergency C-section in the hospital's delivery suite but health complications meant the procedure was delayed. In the interim, an elective caesarean was given the suite.

"Ashley's condition deteriorated and she got eclampsia which they had to treat before they could do the caesarean," Cresswell said.

Eclampsia is a condition where high blood pressure results in seizures during pregnancy.

"In the process of treating her one of the babies' heart rate dropped and it became an extreme emergency. They attempted to move her into the delivery suite theatre, but were told an elective caesarean patient was in the theatre."

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With the babies' lives at risk, staff rushed Corkill 800 metres through the hospital to the main theatre block.

The babies both required resuscitation after birth.

"I worked as a nurse for 30 years, including eight years in ED, and nobody should have gone through what we went through that day. "

The family met with hospital staff on September 1 last year and were told the hospital planned to change how C-sections were managed.

In an email sent from Rumball to Waikato DHB chairman Bob Simcock in September this year, Rumball said hospital managers had been slow to introduce changes despite multiple near misses.

"Even with a death, they [senior management] have lacked energy or competence to drive a business case through," Rumball said.

Since December 2016, elective C-sections have been carried out in the hospital's acute surgical suite.

Waikato DHB clinical director of quality and patient safety Dr Doug Stephenson said he was "absolutely certain" mothers and babies were receiving safe treatment at Waikato Hospital.

Stephenson had no knowledge of any "near misses" regarding the safety of mothers and babies.

Cresswell said Stephenson's comments were upsetting considering her family met with hospital staff last year.

"We put in a complaint about how the delivery suite was managed because it just about caused us to lose the babies. They thanked us for the complaint because they said it was going to make a difference but obviously the changes came too late for the other baby."

In a statement, Waikato DHB member Dave Macpherson said board members were not advised of the death of the baby at Waikato Hospital.

Macpherson learnt of the death via the media and had since been contacted by others saying it was not an isolated incident.

"Issues such as these are very concerning to board members who have a responsibility to ensure the DHB delivers good quality health services to our community," Macpherson said.

Waikato DHB spokeswoman Lydia Aydon said the baby's death was a complex case.

"We can't say any more than that or it might identify the patient," Aydon said.

 - Stuff

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