In brief it covers the intrapartum (in labor) stillbirth of Harriet Hawkins. By the sound of it this little girl died while her mother was in prolonged dysfunctional labor. A report that the parents managed to instigate found what seems to be appalling negligence: “13 different identifiable delivery and service problems”!
I say “managed to instigate” because in spite of the fact that Harriet entered labor alive and that her stillbirth has been described as “almost certainly preventable” and in spite of the hospital investigating and admitting fault there can be no coroner’s inquest!
As I have said before on this blog, far from assigning blame that many people think is the Coroners role, the Coroner actually has a strong role in serving the public in helping to prevent preventable deaths. BUT the coroner has no jurisdiction over stillbirths because the baby is not considered a “legal entity” until the baby has been born shown signs of life. Also contrary to public opinion the Coroner’s inquest is MUCH more than an autopsy as an inquest examines the circumstances surrounding the death specifically looking for what could have been done differently and then handing down recommendations that are MUCH more powerful than recommendations made by a single institution like a hospital committee.
While it is apparent that Jack and Sarah Hawkins successfully fought to get their baby’s death investigated it is also apparent that they have the wherewithal and intestinal fortitude to persist where others with less determination may well have given up or even not tried. This is NOT acceptable. Babies like Harriet deserve to have their deaths investigated just like any other person who dies suddenly and expectantly ESPECIALLY when the death is at the hands of care providers.
So what is needed? It is high time that the Coroners jurisdiction is extended to include stillborn babies. This is needed so that parents who have just experienced the tragedy of stillbirth don’t have to expend energy, that many simply don’t have, to gain justice for their baby. If you agree please sign the Army against stillbirth petition.