Welcome to the latest addition to the It Still Takes a Village – Working in Baby Loss Interview Series where we take a closer look at those who dedicate their day to day to preventing baby loss and supporting those affected. You can read more interviews, here.
The perspective of a clinical negligence lawyer has been heard before in this series. I think, however, its a really powerful and poignant perspective, and I’m delighted to be able to share another voice from this position in the world around bereaved parents. Sadly, often parents fail to get the support or answers that they need following the death of a baby. It can be at a time of deep isolation that lawyers end up being the main point of contact a family has, and as a result, have to dedicate a lot of their time and passion to emotionally supporting and signposting families. I’ve know of Charlotte Moore from Twitter for some time, and she actively takes part in Baby Loss Hour, offering her compassion and support to families. Please, meet Charlotte…
I am a medical negligence solicitor at Knights Injury and I act on behalf of patients and families when they have suffered substandard care or treatment that results in injury, or the death of a loved one. I am based in Wilmslow and Newcastle-under-Lyme but have acted for clients all over the country for the last 10 years.
In my job, every day is different. But generally my days are spent talking to clients about their cases; meeting with medical experts and barristers to discuss the evidence in a case; attending court to represent a clients at hearings; drafting documents; or speaking and meeting charities that I support, who help patients and families cope with their loss or diagnosis.
What are you currently working on? Is there a particular project or aim that you’d like to share with people.
My work is very varied, and at any one time, I act on behalf of a number of patients and families who have been affected by clinical negligence.
What motivated you to do the job that you are doing now?
The tenacity and bravery of my clients, who have been through the most tragic and heart breaking times and have suffered devastating and life changing injuries, never ceases to amaze me. My job allows me to help and support people in getting answers about what has gone wrong with their medical treatment and obtain compensation to make life a little easier. My clients, the varied nature of my work and ability to help people is what motivates me every day.
In what ways does your current role allow you to get involved in the baby loss cause?
Raising awareness, raising standards and improving patient safety is at the heart of my job in acting for patients and families in clinical negligence cases and those affected by baby loss. Both, I, and the rest of the team at Knights Injury, have established links with baby loss charities and are actively involved in campaigns to raise awareness and get people talking about baby loss.
In individual cases, I hope that by acting for parents when they have suffered baby loss, it highlights to the hospitals and clinicians involved, the aspects of treatment and care that must be improved. By doing this, I hope to raise standards and prevent future baby loss.
What are the biggest frustrations or constraints that you face in supporting those affected by baby loss or preventing baby loss in the first place?
It is saddening to see the same mistakes being repeated time and again, which leads to the same devastating consequences for families. This could be prevented by hospitals and clinicians taking the time to learn from mistakes and putting in place better training.
It is also frustratingly common for people to come to me for help when they feel that that they have not had the answers from the hospital, to help them understand what went wrong. It is so important for families, in helping them come to terms with their loss, that they are given the opportunity to discuss and have their questions answered about what happened to their baby and whether their loss could have been prevented.
Do you think that Baby Loss is still a taboo, and if so, why? Do you encounter issues with it being a taboo in your day to day work?
Unfortunately, baby loss remains a taboo. Part of the problem comes from people not knowing what to say to parents and families that have suffered baby loss. That is why it is so important to encourage people to share their stories of baby loss, to get people talking and knowing that that there is no shame in miscarriage or stillbirth. For families and parents that have suffered baby loss it is important that they have a voice and feel comfortable to be able to share their experiences so that they can get support and feel less alone.
Who else do you work alongside in terms of baby loss support or prevention? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague that you couldn’t manage without?
We work with a number of different charities, supporting them with their campaigns, fundraising for them and referring our clients to them for support. Charities like Tommy’s and Sands are invaluable.
When the job is hard, what one thing reminds you to keep on keeping on?
When my job gets hard, I remember why I am doing it – to help families get answers about what happened that led to their loved one’s death or injury.
We are in a shift change with the understanding and awareness of baby loss. What would you say to someone just starting out in a job associated to baby loss?
Talk to as many people as you can that have been affected by baby loss, it will help to break the silence.
It’s likely that a newly bereaved parent is reading this. What would you like to say to them?
Please don’t feel like you are alone – there are people and organisations to help and listen when you are ready. Take your time, reach out to others that can support you and don’t compare yourself with how others are coping with baby loss.
We have some ambitious targets for baby loss currently in the UK. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms of maternity and baby loss?
Sadly, the UK still has a worryingly high rate of stillbirths compared to other countries and 1/200 babies are born asleep each year. Through the great work of charities and people affected by baby loss in raising awareness, NHS bodies are now implementing guidelines and strategies to reduce the number of stillbirths. One such guideline that was introduced by NHS England in August 2018 is the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle. It is hoped that use of this guideline will save 600 babies each year from stillbirth. Additionally, from November 2017, all families who suffer a stillbirth should be offered an independent investigation of their care, with the aim to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries to mothers and their babies.
No parent or family should go through the agony of losing a child. I hope that by implementing these new guidelines and schemes that it is successful in reducing the number of stillbirths; it will help families get the answers to the questions that they have about their baby loss; and make sure that lessons are learned to prevent the same mistakes happening again.
Thank you so much for taking part in this interview series. Lastly, before we finish – Is there anything else about you or your job that you’d like to let people know about?
I know that lawyers, and particularly clinical negligence lawyers, get bad press and are seen as ambulance chasers. But my job is my passion – my aim is to get the best result for my clients, help them get the answers they deserve, drive up standards and raise awareness.
You can find out more about Charlotte and Knight’s Injury here
This blog post is part of an ongoing spotlight on those working in baby loss. To read more from It Still Takes a Village series, visit the hub page here.