Errors by NHS staff meant we never got to know our son - Cheltenham couple
A COUPLE have spoken of their heartbreak after the NHS admitted mistakes by medical staff at Cheltenham General Hospital may have led to the death of their infant son.
Gemma Smith and Stewart Pearce, from Wyman's Brook, received an out of court settlement for an undisclosed sum after senior hospital staff admitted they failed to pick up signs of distress during the birth of their son Toby.
The tot died aged just three days after being starved of oxygen during labour.
An investigation found that if staff had reviewed his oxygen levels more thoroughly or if he had been delivered earlier, he might have survived.
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Gemma, 25, said warning signs were evident up to eight hours before Toby was eventually delivered.
"It's hard for us to accept what happened and to know that Toby could have been saved," she said.
"It's frightening being in that situation and you just have to put yourselves in the hands of the experts.
"But they let us down."
The settlement, accompanied by an admission of failure on behalf of the trust, comes nearly two years after the ordeal.
Toby was born on December 23, 2010 and transferred to St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, where he died three days later due to perinatal asphyxia.
Gemma said: "Nothing will bring Toby back but now we can move on with our lives.
"We want to tell our story because it's important to raise awareness for families who find themselves in that situation.
"I wouldn't wish what we have been through on anyone."
Since Toby's death Gemma and Stewart, 28, have thrown themselves into fundraising in Toby's memory, raising just under £4,000 for Cots for Tots – an appeal to fund a 12-bed family accommodation unit in Bristol for parents of sick and premature babies.
The couple now have Mia, an 11-month-old baby, who will never get to know her older brother.
Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has apologised for the mistakes made by his staff.
"It was with deep regret that I learned of the death of Toby three days after his birth," he said.
"If a review had taken place it is likely that a decision would have been taken to deliver Toby at an earlier time.
"I understand that had Toby been delivered at this earlier time, it is possible he would have survived."