Somerset

Hospital's baby inquest statements investigated by police

Jamie King
Image caption Jamie King's son, Benjamin, was born in a "poor condition" at the Royal United Hospital in Bath last year, the inquest heard

Claims hospital evidence given at the inquest of a new born baby was tampered with are being examined by police.

Benjamin King died after being starved of oxygen before birth. Tamara Podemski was due to have a Caesarean the night before his birth but was sent home.

His father, actor Jamie King, said they heard "altered accounts, deflection and diversion" at the inquest.

The Avon Coroner has contacted police after claims witness statements were changed by the hospital's legal team.

Coroner Marie Voisin said she "remains very concerned about this very serious matter" - which emerged at the opening of the inquest in November.

"This decision, [to delay the birth] together with the decision to send his mum home, resulted in Benjamin being born in a poor condition and his subsequent death," she said.

Recording a narrative conclusion, she added she would be writing to the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust in her capacity as coroner to prevent future deaths.

Speaking outside court, Mr King said he had been informed by the coroner "that the matter of the altered witness statements has been reported to the police".

"Rather than hearing the truth, we've had to listen to misremembered stories, altered accounts, deflection and diversion," he said.

"Left with so many unresolved issues and unanswered questions, we feel compelled to appeal directly to expectant parents in the hope that this does not happen again."

Image caption Jamie King has starred in The Tudors and Mad Men; his wife Tamara Podemski is a singer and actress

Mr King urged expectant parents to stand their ground if they had any concerns about their baby's health, to stay, take names and write down every detail.

"That way, no-one can twist your story or play with the facts at a later date," he said.

The inquest at Flax Bourton was told Ms Podemski's pregnancy was assessed as high-risk and she was due to have a Caesarean section.

Her case was rated as a "C3", meaning the procedure should be undertaken as soon as it was safe to do so, it was said.

But when an emergency case took priority the decision was made to re-schedule Ms Podemski as first on the elective list for 0800 BST the following morning, 5 May.

She was sent home but rushed back into hospital and Benjamin was born by emergency Caesarean section at 06:55, the two-day hearing was told. He was resuscitated but died five days later.

A trust spokeswoman said it offered its sincere apologies to Benjamin's family which faced a "regrettable delay" to the conclusion of the inquest.

"As it was detailed in court we have made improvements to our systems as a result.

"We will now look closely at the coroner's findings to identify any further opportunities for improvement."

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