Tunbridge Wells doctors 'failed' over Caesarean death

Frances Cappuccini Image copyright PA
Image caption Frances Cappuccini died at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in October 2012

Two doctors failed in the "elementary task" of protecting the airway of a woman who died after a Caesarean birth, the Inner London Crown Court has heard.

Jurors heard the anaesthetists failed to ensure Frances Cappuccini, 30, safely came round from surgery at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Kent.

Dr Errol Cornish denies manslaughter by gross negligence and Dr Nadeem Azeez is not on trial having left the country.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust denies corporate manslaughter.

The court heard Mrs Cappuccini arrived at the hospital in pain and distress and her second child was delivered 12 hours after going into labour.

She had surgery after losing 2.3 litres (about four pints) of blood but never woke up and died that day, the court was told.

Jurors heard a tube helping her to breathe after the operation was removed by 12:30 BST.

Five minutes after it was removed, it became clear she had breathing difficulties, but Dr Azeez, who was primarily responsible for the care of Mrs Cappuccini, failed to ask for help in time, the court heard.

By 13:00 BST, consultant anaesthetist Dr Cornish, of Holmbury Park, Bromley, was called to help but he failed to immediately make sure Mrs Cappuccini was re-intubated, therefore contributing to the cause of her death on 9 October 2012, prosecutor John Price QC said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dr Errol Cornish is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence

Mr Price said Dr Azeez was seriously at fault.

And he said Dr Cornish "should immediately have ensured that she was re-intubated and in failing to do so, the Crown allege, he too was grossly negligent".

Jurors heard Dr Azeez was appointed in 2007 but did not have the qualification certifying his basic level of competence in anaesthetics and was not appraised until almost three years after being employed by the trust.

Mr Price said South African-born Dr Cornish had never gained a postgraduate qualification in anaesthesia recognised in the UK and has "never met the criteria for substantive appointment as a consultant anaesthetist".

He said Dr Cornish and Dr Azeez failed in the "elementary task of protecting her airway in order to ensure that as she recovered from the operation she remained adequately ventilated, that sufficient air was getting into her lungs".

The prosecution has claimed if one or both doctors are found to be grossly negligent the trust can be said to have employed someone they knew or should have known was not suitably qualified or trained for their role.

The case continues.

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