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Scottish MP challenges medical negligence process following stillborn ordeal

SNP member and representative for North Ayrshire and Arran Patricia Gibson MP has called for a change to the medical negligence process following her horrific ordeal in which she gave birth to a stillborn child and almost dying herself.

Due date heartache

Back in 2009, Ms Gibson received the fantastic news that she was expecting her first child. Patricia and her husband Kenneth (MP for Cunninghame North) had both been desperate to have a child which resulted in them opting for IVF treatment. The pregnancy went smoothly right up to her due date, which was when she felt ill.

On her due date she attended hospital and informed the staff she was feeling ill but was told to go home as she had “nothing wrong with her”. She remained and fought her corner until finally the staff agreed to let her stay and was given morphine. No doctor came near her however until the following morning where she was informed her baby had died.

An emergency caesarean section took place, but, after an arduous process where inducing the baby became difficult, her liver ruptured. She lost a lot of blood and thought she was close to death as doctors rushed to help. It was eventually discovered she had pre-eclampsia, which should have been picked up earlier and as a result, she should never have been given morphine.

 

Listening to patients

While Patricia’s nightmare is of course a horrific experience to go through, the ordeal has given her the goal of trying to promote a new culture within UK healthcare. She has three major objectives:

  • “Given that 45 per cent of women who have had stillborns were sent home when they expressed concerns, I want to bed into our culture a more collaborative system where people’s concerns are listened to.”
  • “When mistakes are made, health boards or health trusts should not be investigating themselves. An independent body must be brought in to investigate full-term stillbirths and there needs to be a time limit.”
  • When babies are stillborn at full-term, coroners should become involved as they would be able to pinpoint causes of death and how lessons can be learned.

Ms Gibson’s case was a long and complex affair. Two years after the death of her baby she had still received no apology and was forced to seek legal advice. Two commissioned reports later, and following a lengthy conversation between her representatives and the NHS, she was advised to settle for a small sum as taking her claim higher could have bankrupted her. Ms Gibson’s campaign has turned many heads with her simple mantra that “women know their own bodies, if there is an issue, mum will know”. She has spoken at length regarding the issues surrounding stillbirths and the UK health system, continuing to fly the flag for mothers suffering as a result of not being listened to.

Sincere Law’s Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker weighed in on the issue, stating:

“When it comes to serious injury, it is not just all broken bones and damaged muscles. A large aspect of everything we do is with the mental anguish dealt from incidents such as this. Ms Gibson has taken the brave step to tell her story and to go over two years without an apology is not acceptable. Her case has been prolonged much longer than necessary, but the fact she was not seen by any doctor until she was informed of her child’s death is the biggest injustice. We fully support Ms Gibson’s campaign and hope to see more hospitals listening to mothers when they feel there could be a problem.”

Scottish MP changes to medical negligence procedure

Unfortunately, UK mothers experience on average 3,600 accounts of stillbirth each year with research suggesting that up to half of them could be avoided with the use of scans and more attention to care. Hopefully with more support, Ms Gibson’s campaign can be a turning point in reducing those statistics. To support her campaign you can find her on her official Twitter & Facebook feeds.