Paramedics accused of being 'out of their depth' at inquest after death of Portsmouth baby

A MUM who gave birth to her baby at home in a traumatic labour accused paramedics of ‘being out of their depth’, an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 11:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 11:53 am

Charlene Knight gave a ‘rapid’ birth to an ‘unresponsive’ baby Albert, who was delivered legs first at her Copnor home on June 18 last year.

But Albert died at Queen Alexandra Hospital on June 25 in his parents’ arms after being taken off life-support having suffered brain damage after being unable to breathe on his own.

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard how Ms Knight thought South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) paramedic Steve Purser was ‘nervous’ when delivering baby Albert.

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A SCAS ambulance

Ms Knight, in a statement read out by coroner Lincoln Brookes, said: ‘The paramedic seemed out of his depth and nervous at delivering a breech baby (legs first) that needed immediate attention.

‘After Albert was delivered the paramedic asked the midwife: “What do I do now?”.’

Mr Purser, who has since resigned from his post due to the ‘impact the case had on him’, admitted he was nervous at carrying out the delivery.

In a statement read out to the hearing, he said: ‘I was anxious as I’ve never had to deal with a breech baby before.

‘I’m not afraid to admit I was nervous as I knew how serious the situation was. It stretched me to the limit of my skills.

‘It was a highly emotive time and I was aware the baby needed quick intervention.’

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Tracy Redman, of SCAS, defended Mr Purser’s actions. ‘A breech birth is rare and although the paramedic had 30 years of experience this was his first delivery of a breech birth,’ she said in her statement.

‘It was a very difficult situation and is not abnormal to feel apprehension.

‘Listening to the call he does not ask the midwife (who arrived just after birth) “what should I do” after the baby was born.’

Ms Knight and her partner Matthew also complained that an emergency care assistant, waiting outside the house for the midwife, had told a neighbour: ‘Maybe she is walking she is taking so long.’

The assistant later admitted making the ‘flippant’ remark. ‘He regrets his comment and apologises to Ms Knight,’ Ms Redman said.

SCAS and Portsmouth Hospital Trust have admitted that joint learning is needed to make improvements in training in the future.

But despite the complaints SCAS insisted it had ‘no concerns over the care’ carried out.