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East Kent maternity services ‘still failing’ eight years after traumatic birth

Danielle Clark had a traumatic birth with first son in 2013 and was disappointed to experience more issues when giving birth to her third son.

19 October 2022

A mother who experienced a traumatic birth during her first pregnancy was disappointed to face more issues when her third son was born eight years later.

Danielle Clark, a mother of three from Thanet in Kent, gave birth to her first son, Noah, in 2013 at the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital in Margate.

She said she felt like her concerns were dismissed due to being a first-time mother.

Mrs Clark said: “I was induced but the reason I was induced was never communicated.

“The induction then took three days, I should have been offered an emergency c-section, but instead they gave me over the NICE guidelines, too much induction gel.

“They should have only given me three doses and then reviewed the situation, but they carried on and gave me two more.

“I had a very traumatic delivery, they’d left it so long that they couldn’t reverse to a c-section because if they were to do that it could have been fatal to my son or he could have had brain damage.

“Noah got very distressed, he ended up needed resuscitation and spent nine days in the special care baby unit.

“At eight weeks old he had to have emergency surgery at Evelina Children’s Hospital because things had been missed, he wasn’t gaining weight, he was dying in front of our eyes basically.

“He had to have emergency surgery to correct all that was wrong.

“Looking back on that time, we just kept being told we were first-time parents, we were anxious, but that wasn’t the case.”

The surgery in London “saved Noah’s life”, although he is severely visually impaired and is on the autism spectrum – and Mrs Clark is “incredibly grateful” that Noah, now nine, is “still here”.

Independent review into maternity services
A view of the entrance to the maternity unit of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Last October Mrs Clark gave birth to her third son – and was disappointed to experience further issues with her care at QEQM Hospital.

She explained: “I developed diabetes, I had multiple hospital admissions, I was told I needed to have my blood sugars monitored due to the risk of stillbirth but this was never done.

“I will never, ever forget the day a senior midwife sat at my bedside and told me she was a midwife, not a nurse, and the diabetes was basically my issue. They treated me as if diabetes was as bad as having a sexually transmitted infection, it was horrific.”

Mrs Clark was speaking at a press conference in Folkestone, Kent following the publication of Dr Bill Kirkup’s investigation into maternity and neonatal services in East Kent. Her experiences were included within the report.

Responding to the report, she said: “People need to be held accountable. This has got to change, babies are dying just through bad care and pure neglect.

“Midwives, at the moment, are short staffed but it’s almost like they’re treating every patient as textbook material, but anybody who has any sense knows no patient is textbook.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve got closure because, having experienced neglect again eight years later with the birth of my third son last year, it’s very infuriating to think things still haven’t changed.

“I don’t think anybody is ever going to have full closure. I don’t think you’re ever able to get over the traumatic impact it has mentally on you.

“The whole system doesn’t work properly.”

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