Northern Ireland

Cara Rocks inquest: Stillbirth case 'helped to save lives'

Michelle and Barry Rocks at Belfast Coroner's Court where an inquest for their still born daughter Cara is being held, 30 August 2016 Image copyright PA
Image caption Michelle and Barry Rocks were praised at Belfast Coroner's Court for fighting for answers over the stillbirth of their daughter, Cara

A groundbreaking case, involving the world's first inquest to focus solely on a stillborn baby, has already helped to save lives, a court has heard.

The coroner investigating the stillbirth of Cara Rocks thanked the child's parents for the strength they showed in seeking answers in the case.

Cara was stillborn at a County Londonderry hospital in June 2013.

The coroner said he believed the action they took had saved lives and improved pre-birth health care.

The Northern Health Trust has already apologised over the baby's death and has accepted a series of failings.

'Little angel'

The child's mother, Michelle Rocks, repeatedly asked doctors for a Caesarean section while she was a patient at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.

But against her wishes, medics proceeded with a natural delivery.

When they had difficulty hearing the baby's heartbeat, a Caesarean section was ordered but baby Cara was stillborn.

Image caption In his findings, the coroner said he was satisfied Mrs Rocks had made her wish for a Caesarean section clear to staff at the Causeway Hospital

Closing the inquest at Belfast Coroner's Court, the coroner thanked Mrs Rocks and her husband, Barry, for fighting hard on behalf of their baby daughter.

He said he believed that pregnancy care had already changed for the better as a result the lessons medics had learned from their case.

The coroner added that Cara should not be remembered as the baby who lost her life, but the baby who brought about positive change to ante-natal care in Northern Ireland.

Emerging from the inquest, Mr and Mrs Rocks said they would never forget their "little angel".

"Cara has not been forgotten and we, as her parents, have persisted on seeking the truth.

"We have done what we had to do to get the truth."

'Respect for patients'

Speaking via their lawyer, Mrs Rocks said the method of delivering a baby should always be the patient's decision.

"A mother should not be afraid to ask for a second opinion and a mother should always ensure their wishes are properly recorded," she said.

"Mothers should always be aware of the grade of the doctor who is attending to them.

"We ask that doctors and midwives should respect their patients as they would their wife, daughters or sisters."

Earlier the inquest had been told that Mrs Rocks had been a good candidate for a planned Caesarean section, because she had already given birth to an older child by C-section.

The court was also told doctors had assessed that Cara was big baby and had presented as breech.

In his findings, the coroner said he was satisfied that Mrs Rocks had made her wishes clear and that medics should not have been under any other opinion that a C-section was the mode of delivery preferred by the mother.

He acknowledged that while no one ever gets over the death of a baby, he hoped the inquest had helped them to move forward slightly.

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