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Action at Royal Free's maternity unit is long overdue

PUBLISHED: 12:52 11 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

For weeks now, parents have been coming forward with terrible tales of their experiences in the maternity unit at the Royal Free hospital. At an inquest earlier this month into the tragic death of baby Riley Croft in 2005, coroner Andrew Reid was driven

For weeks now, parents have been coming forward with terrible tales of their experiences in the maternity unit at the Royal Free hospital.

At an inquest earlier this month into the tragic death of baby Riley Croft in 2005, coroner Andrew Reid was driven to report the hospital to the healthcare authorities. Riley lived for just a few minutes after he was born and a jury found that fatal staff errors had led to his death.

Since we reported this story we have been inundated with similar tales of bad treatment meted out by the Royal Free and midwives Ine Toby and Beverley Blankson who are being investigated by the National Midwifery Council.

Susanna Galton, Giovanni Conticello, Mita Khara, Sarah Mitchell and Zoe Drewitt are just some of those who have all shared their horror stories and Riley's parents Iain Croft and Heather Paterson now want to set up a pressure group and are seeking legal advice.

The saddest thing in all of this is that a baby had to die, and a formal court proceeding be instigated, before anyone at the hospital would admit something was wrong.

For years we have reported stories of awful experiences at the hands of neglectful staff who misadministered drugs, told women to shut up and often failed to act until it was almost too late. In all those cases the hospital said it was investigating but as the latest flood of horror stories proves, those investigations have changed nothing.

It is time we stopped accepting these bland, blanket responses, and demanded some real change at a hospital which is clearly failing in its duty of care. Baby Riley Croft deserves nothing less.


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