£400,000 damages for family of woman who died in childbirth

Author: By Jan Colley, Press Association

Joanne Lockham, a 45-year-old senior staff nurse, was overdue when she was
admitted to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in
October 2007 for the birth of her first child.

The decision to perform a Caesarian section was made when the baby’s heart
rate suddenly dropped and she was given a general anaesthetic.

But the tube meant to provide Mrs Lockham, of Wendover, Buckinghamshire, with
oxygen during the operation was placed down her oesophagus, rather than her
windpipe.

She was deprived of oxygen for half an hour and suffered a cardiac arrest just
one minute after Finn was safely delivered.

She died two days later, having never seen Finn, who is being brought up by
her husband Peter, a 48-year-old builder, who also has a 17-year-old son by
an earlier relationship.

At London’s High Court today, Mr Justice Burnett approved the settlement
against Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who promptly admitted liability
and publicly apologised for “serious failures” at the March inquest into Mrs
Lockham’s death.

The judge said the claim arose in “especially tragic circumstances”, and paid
tribute to Mr Lockham for his devoted care of his sons.

“He has done so in circumstances that all of us can understand are extremely
difficult. The settlement is an entirely appropriate one.”

The family’s counsel, Christopher Johnston, had told the court: “Finn was the
son who Joanne never saw following a long period of IVF. This was a much
wanted child.”

The Trust’s counsel, Alex Antelme, repeated its apology for the tragic
accident.

There was no comment from Mr Lockham, who was in court for the brief hearing.

In a narrative verdict, the inquest jury highlighted four “serious failures”
to follow the drill for incorrectly-ventilated patients.

These were:

* The failure to provide Mrs Lockham with 100% oxygen.

* The failure of medics to use a machine to detect if she was exhaling carbon
dioxide.

* Giving her a second dose of a drug to paralyse her limbs when she started to
stir.

* Wasting time with repeated attempts to insert the intubation tube.

Coroner Richard Hulett described the decision to administer a second dose of
muscle relaxant as a “disastrous move”.

The Trust said it had carried out a full investigation after Mrs Lockham’s
death and made changes to procedures.

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