Nov 30 2012 by Craig Robertson, Kilmarnock Standard
The devastated parents of a baby boy who died as a result of a botched delivery have blasted the NHS for failing to fully explain why it happened.
Elijah Stirling passed away less than six months after blunders at Crosshouse Hospital caused him to suffer brain damage during birth.
Mother Jennifer Kennedy was meant to have a scheduled caesarian section after having problems with a previous natural delivery.
But instead hospital staff ignored her pleas and pushed for a natural birth which resulted in wee Elijah being starved of oxygen.
But now, at the approach of what would have been his second birthday on December 14, Jennifer, and Elijah’s father Allan Stirling, say they are still not fully clear on how the hospital blunders came about.
The pair, of Kilmarnock, were featured in a BBC documentary on Monday night which looked at critical incidents throughout Scotland.
Details of 64 separate incidents involving NHS Ayrshire and Arran were also been revealed.
But both Jennifer and Allan say their case is by far the worst.
They are taking legal action against the health board and are campaigning for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held.
Pointing to Elijah’s picture at their home in Onthank, dad Allan, 46, told the Standard: “I made a promise to that wee boy when he died that I would find out why this happened to him.
“This is not about money, it is about getting the answer that the NHS won’t give us about how our wee boy was killed.”
“We want a fatal accident inquiry before a sheriff so witnesses can be called to give an account of what happened.
“That’s the only way we’ll find out because report after report by the NHS hasn’t told us anything.”
Mum Jennifer, 44, said: “In my heart I don’t think they will turn us down for an FAI. This needs to happen so we can get some sort of closure.”
The case is being looked at by the Procurator Fiscal and is awaiting a decision on whether an FAI will go ahead.
An inquiry is held when it is believed there is a public interest in having a hearing on the circumstances surrounding a death.
Jennifer said: “We are pushing for an FAI because we believe Crosshouse Hospital has no intention of giving us the truth.
“I hope that now our case has been put under a national spotlight by the BBC it will put more pressure on it being held.”
Elijah spent several months between Crosshouse and Yorkhill hospitals as doctors tried to treat him for several problems which included an inability to swallow on his own.
He also had mucus in his lungs which meant he needed oxygen to help him breathe.
A report into his death by NHS Ayrshire and Arran – revealed by the Standard last August – concluded that “different management” of Jennifer’s labour would have resulted in a “different outcome”.
It said that “a number of systems breakdowns were identified that significantly contributed” to the outcome.
Jennifer had been booked in for a scheduled caesarian on December 14, 2010 due to her previous problems with natural birth.
But consultant obstetrician, Dr Gordon Dobbie, who had planned Jennifer’s care, finished his shift at 12.30pm on that day.
Her care was then taken on over the subsequent hours by at least two other obstetricians along with senior staff in the maternity ward.
Despite Jennifer pleading for the caesarian to takeplace as planned, consultants and maternity staff pushedfor a natural birth and kepther on a drip for nine hours.
The report concluded that a caesarian should have been carried out much sooner.
It is also critical of theafter-care given to Jennifer. Dr Dobbie retired soon after the birth and it wasn’t clear to whom Jennifer’s caseload had been passed.
And in March 2011, another failing after the birth saw Elijah and his father driven to Yorkhill Hospital in the back of a hospital volunteer’s car.
The sick baby was in the car with a complete stranger who was dropped off elsewhere.
NHS chiefs later apologised.
Allan said this week: “We’ve been treated so badly by them time after time that we want someone to take responsibility.
“The NHS keep blaming systems and say they will learn from their mistakes but how many times do things like this have to happen?
“Someone should beforced to resign and that’s why we want a full inquiry.”
The couple now take comfort in their other two healthy children, Ethan, 4, and Eve, 3. But the say only properanswers from an FAI will allow them to put baby Elijah fully to rest.
Allan added: “We’d just like to thank the many people of Kilmarnock who have offered us support – even complete strangers.
“The ones that should have been doing that are Crosshouse Hospital but instead they just frustrate us.”