Coroner 'warns NHS not to avoid caesareans because of cost'

A senior coroner has warned the NHS of a risk of future deaths if it favours vaginal births over caesarean sections because of cost, according to a report.

Andrew Walker is reported to have said that, in the case of the death of one newborn, there appeared to be a financial reason for favouring vaginal delivery that "needed to be rebutted".

The coroner sent a report to the Department of Health that referred to the death of Kristian Jaworski, who died five days after his birth in June 2015, the BBC said.

The baby reportedly suffered fatal brain damage during a "prolonged and extended instrumental delivery" at North Middlesex University Hospital.

The hospital has accepted liability for his death, although it has stressed cost was not a consideration during his birth.

Dr Cathy Cale, director of medicine at North Middlesex University Hospital, said they had apologised and were "very sorry for the tragic death" that affected the doctors and midwives "deeply".

"Although the coroner did not find the trust negligent, we have accepted liability for Kristian's death because we accept we made mistakes," she said.

After an internal investigation the hospital has drawn up new guidance on instrumental delivery and taken steps to ensure a mother's concerns over delivery are recorded in her notes, the BBC reported.

Dr Cale said: "Our team took their decision to continue with the natural delivery in this case for clinical reasons alone and would have had no concerns about intervening surgically had they believed this risk was warranted. There was and never is any question of cost being a consideration."

The Department of Health said it had received the report and will respond "in due course".

The hospital tried to deliver Kristian naturally even though his mother Tracey Taylor had been told after the birth of her first child that she had a very narrow birth canal and would need a caesarian for any subsequent births, the BBC reported.

Health minister Ben Gummer said: "Our deepest sympathies are with Kristian's family for their loss -- they have been let down terribly.

"Treatment decisions in maternity care should always be made by clinicians in full consultation with women. These should be based on a woman's individual clinical needs and in line with Nice guidelines in terms of best practice.

"It is vital that we learn from tragedies like this to ensure they are not repeated and far fewer families have to experience this kind of heartache."