Yorkshire couple's plea for answers over death of baby Jacob

Paul Swaines, with Jacob's footprint
Paul Swaines, with Jacob's footprint
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It should have been the happiest day of their lives, bringing home their newborn baby son.

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Paul and Yvette, while she was pregnant with Jacob

Paul and Yvette, while she was pregnant with Jacob

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Instead, new parents Yvette Crook and Paul Swaine, in a daze, found themselves collecting his death certificate.
Their son Jacob, born at Calderdale Royal Infirmary on April 5 last year, lived for just five hours. Failures in his care, the hospital trust later conceded, had contributed to his death.
But a year on, his family are still waiting for answers. And now expecting again, with Yvette pregnant, the couple are terrified of what could go wrong.
"We have been left in limbo," said Mr Swaine. "We haven't had answers. We haven't had the chance to fully grieve over the loss of our son.
"We're left with this constant dread - is it going to happen again? We both feel that we need to speak out. For our son, for Jacob."

A longed-for baby
The couple, both care workers, have been together for nearly nine years.
At their home in Wyke, south Bradford, there are mementos of their son. A casting of Jacob's footprint, his tiny fist. A poem, a baby blue teddy bear that he will get never get to hold.
Miss Crook, 31, sits quietly next to her fiancee, the bump under her denim shirt clearly showing.
Once again, she is pregnant, now 22 weeks. And while she watches her fiancee as he talks, often offering a small smile as he falters, she is silent as the cameras roll.
The toll this has taken on her is evident, and while she wants answers, she cannot quite steel herself yet to share that pain.

The family is determined to find answers over Jacob's death

The family is determined to find answers over Jacob's death

Miscarriage
The couple lost their first pregnancy to early miscarriage, at just six weeks. So when Miss Crook fell pregnant again, with Jacob, they were naturally nervous.
"We went through the first few weeks quite anxious," said Mr Swaine, 34, speaking on behalf of both of them. "When we got to 12 weeks, we both breathed a sigh of relief.
"We found out we were having a little boy, and some of that anxiety started to fade. We started to look forward to all the things we could do as a family."
Like many first-time mothers, Miss Crook went over her due date. On April 4, 13 days after she was due, Miss Crook was induced.
Mr Swaine speaks plainly as he lays out what happened that day. Detailing an account of every time a midwife came to carry out checks.
Close to midnight, he says, he felt the first sparks of fear. He could sense that something was wrong, he said, when he saw a carefully blank look sweep across the midwife's face. Jacob's heart rate was too faint.

'Powerless'
"As a dad, I felt quite powerless," he said. "I heard someone say they needed to get the baby out now. I just held Yvette.
"When Jacob came out, they laid him on her. But he was lifeless. Yvette just kept asking why he wasn't crying, and I didn't know what to say."
Jacob, weighing 7lb 1oz, was swept away to neo-natal, doctors starting CPR. He was brought back, but crashed again. As the new parents approached, he crashed a third time.
Jacob was more than likely to be severely brain damaged if he survived, the couple were told. They were asked then to make a decision over his care and, together, they agreed to stop treatment.
"We could see he was suffering," said Mr Swaine. "We could see he was in pain. He survived, fighting to breath, for just a few hours. He passed away in our arms.
"We were in a state of shock. We couldn't understand why we weren't taking our son home."

Failings
A serious incident report, published following Jacob's death, later highlighted a number of failings by the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, which conceded that “the root cause was found to have been the failure to monitor him during labour.”
A total of 10 recommendations were outlined in the report and, in addition to the failings identified, it was found that Jacob died as a result of lack of oxygen both during the pregnancy and during labour.
Now, the family say, delays by the NHS Trust in providing information mean that an inquest into Jacob’s death is on hold.
While pre-inquest reviews were held in March, they cannot move forward until full medical records can be provided by the NHS Trust.
Medical records were first requested back in July last year, Mr Swaine says, adding these delays have brought the family significant pain.
"We have been treated with no kindness whatsoever, even though our son died in their hospital, and under their care," he adds.

Delays
Lauren Bullock, representing the couple at specialist lawyers Irwin Mitchell, said delays in providing the information mean that an inquest is unlikely to be held until later this year.
“This was meant to be a happy time for them, but sadly it ended in tragedy," she said. “They are both trying to come to terms with what has happened, but it is difficult for them as there are still so many unanswered questions as to what went wrong during Jacob’s birth.
“Now that Yvette is pregnant again, there is obviously a lot of worry and anxiety and the couple really need to know what led to the unexpected death of their baby and that the mistakes identified will not happen again."

The couple, pictured in happier times

The couple, pictured in happier times

NHS Trust
The NHS trust, when approached by The Yorkshire Post, said it cannot comment on individual cases.
The Trust’s Chief Nurse, Jackie Murphy, said: “The loss of a baby is always a very, very, sad occasion and the Trust extends its sympathies to the family.
"The Trust cannot comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality but is co- operating fully with the coroner’s investigation.”