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Inquiry hears of blue-light dash to tragic Nevaeh

Montrose Infirmary.
Montrose Infirmary.

A senior medic has told how he sparked a blue-light mercy dash to an Angus maternity unit when a baby needed resuscitation.

Nevaeh Stewart died three-and-a-half hours after she was born at Montrose Royal Infirmary’s community midwifery unit on September 30 2012.

A non-emergency ambulance was already on its way to retrieve a baby described as “pale and floppy” but with good vital signs, when word reached Ninewells Hospital about the “severity” of her deteriorating condition.

But Dr Amit Sharma said he was only halfway to Montrose in a high-speed police car when he got the “sad” news they were too late to help.

A fatal accident inquiry into Nevaeh’s death is being held at Forfar Sheriff Court, where her father Gary Stewart, from Auchenblae in the Mearns, earlier described the unit as an “emergency response blackspot”.

Giving evidence over a video link from his home in Abu Dhabi was 46-year-old doctor Sharma, who was a consultant neonatologist at Ninewells at the time..

The court previously heard registrar Dr Nicholas Connolly and a midwife left for Montrose after a discussion about who would transport the baby back to Dundee.

When Dr Connolly reached Montrose, he called Dr Sharma to say the baby had stopped breathing and was being resuscitated.

“After that I realised the severity of the situation,” Dr Sharma said.

“I called on my colleague doctor to cover for me and called another midwifery colleague to accompany me.

“I asked for the sister to call for a police car to take us to Montrose.”

Fiscal depute Andrew Hanton asked: “Why did you take that particular decision?”

Dr Sharma said: “Because there was no other manner of transport at that point to take me sooner.

“We called them at 8.10am and the police car came at about 8.50am. It was about 40 minutes.”

Nevaeh died at 8.35am.

“We were halfway to Montrose at high speed when Dr Connolly called and said that despite best efforts, the baby could not be revived,” Dr Sharma added.

The medic, who left Ninewells in December 2012 and was serving his notice at the time of the incident, said he did not think he could have done anything Dr Connolly could not.

Asked by Mr Hanton whether he would have changed anything about his approach to the situation, he said: “I would have tried to have been there sooner but that was beyond my control.

“Even if I had reached there, it may not have changed the outcome.”

Asked by Mr Stewart, 31, whether the outcome would have changed if the birth had been at a maternity hospital, Dr Sharma said: “We would have tried.”

The inquiry, before Sheriff Pino Di Emidio, continues on November 14.

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