On 22 September 2021, the Prison and Probation Ombudsman published a report on the death of ‘Baby A’, after 18-year-old ‘Ms A’ gave birth alone in her cell on 27 September 2019 at HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Middlesex.
The report states that Ms A was in prison for the first time on a robbery charge and highlighted that she had a troubled childhood. Ms A had refused to engage with ante-natal care and was ‘sad, angry and scared’ after being told that her baby would be taken away from her at birth. Ms A gave birth alone in her cell overnight without medical assistance.
A catalogue of failures has been highlighted within the investigation report and the publication of the same has triggered calls for an end to the imprisonment of pregnant women. There were several missed opportunities to intervene in Ms A’s care and failings including but not limited to:
Confusion among different health professionals about her due date.
The day before Ms A’s baby was born she told a prison nurse that she would kill herself or someone else if the baby was taken away from her. This information was not adequately shared amongst staff.
The day before Ms A gave birth, she was put on extended observation. This means that Ms A should have been regularly checked but this did not happen.
At 08:21am on 27 September 2019, prisoners alerted staff that there was blood in Ms A’s cell
It is noted that a pathologist was unable to determine if the baby was born alive or stillborn. Furthermore, Baby A’s death has triggered eleven separate enquiries. The Director of HMP Bronzefield and the Chief Executive of Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have apologised and confirmed that further action would be taken to implement recommendations following the report.
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