PARENTS have spoken of their heartbreak after it was revealed mistakes led to their healthy baby boy’s death.

Charlotte and Robert Smith were due to have their second son, Finley, in January.

He was due on January 11 but Ms Smith, 32, was a week late going into labour and was admitted to Colchester General Hospital on January 19.

Sadly, Finley was born sleeping and could not be resuscitated by staff.

An investigation found a junior midwife overseeing Finley’s birth had missed his heart rate drastically jumping from low to high during birth.

Mr and Ms Smith, of Wilkin Drive, Tiptree, said the hospital had been open with them about the mistakes which led to Finley’s death.

Despite this, they claim the hospital has never offered an apology.

Ms Smith said: “We were utterly distraught after it happened.

“I was still dosed up on gas so I was delirious, but we were both completely filled with shock, we were told minutes before all was well.

“When the report was sent to us it was the perfect opportunity for them to apologise. They didn’t.

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Charlotte and Robert looking at castings they made of Finley's feet

“Since it happened and having shared our story, I’ve had mothers approach me who suffered the same ten years ago and 12 years ago, both at the same hospital.

“Apparently, the hospital told them at the time that lessons had been learnt.

“The notes found there was a 20 minute period where the heart rate wasn’t measured.

“Finley’s heart rate ranged from 108 to 167 in labour. These fluctuations were completely missed as Finley’s signs of distress.

“The midwife overseeing the birth kept saying how well I was doing and there was no indication there was anything wrong.

“But in honesty, it was like she wasn’t even in the room, she just didn’t seem to be there.

“I could have been in a field and it would’ve felt the same.”

The couple were allowed two days with Finley following his death, where they attempted to get castings made of his feet and hands to keep, but said no-one was willing to do it.

After watching some YouTube videos, the couple taught themselves how to make the castings and made ones of Finley’s feet.

Since then, they have set up Forever Finley, an unregistered charity with the aim of providing the service to other bereaved parents across Essex.

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The couple had pictures taken of their previous son Luca's birth, hoping to do the same for Finley

Mr Smith, 34, said: “Forever Finley is a charity we want to get up and running by ourselves first, to ensure we’re doing it properly, before we ask for volunteers.

“After Finley’s death, we met another woman who had gone through the same thing, and she said ‘You can crawl into a corner and cry, or you can live for them’.

“We just want to let people know what’s going on.

“People can be scared to open up a can of worms, but it’s something people need to know.”

Charlotte Smith added: “Our first son Luca, whose 20 months old, was a difficult birth. When we decided we wanted another child, I remember saying to Robert ‘another birth couldn’t possibly be worse than the last one’.

"I wish I’d never said that.

“You put your trust in midwives, but the fact that this junior midwife couldn’t even draw a chart of heartbeats is really worrying.

“We’ve been told she’s still working there under constant supervision. But they need to go back and look at how she was trained.”

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Colchester Hospital's response

The serious incident investigation report into the death of Finley Smith found multiple failures from hospital staff.

The report by the Colchester University NHS Foundation Trust noted the failure to identify foetal hear rate abnormalities and a failure to monitor foetal heart rate during the second stage of labour.

Additionally, there was a lack of failsafe or “fresh eyes” to address the problem, a failure to respond to the abnormalities, and a lack of support and supervision by senior staff to the junior midwife.

Lessons learned included dynamic assessments during labour with risk factors completely addressed, and competence assessments for preceptor midwives during their first 12 months.

A spokesman for the hospital trust said: “This is a tragic event which has deeply saddened everyone involved.

“We accept we did not provide the high standard of care we expect on this occasion and have apologised unreservedly to the family.

“Immediate action has been taken to make sure our junior staff are well supported by their senior team and we will make sure that the things we learn from this sad event improve the care we provide.

“We aim to be open, transparent and honest in all we do when there are any issues with care in our maternity service.”