Grieving mum who missed chance to say final goodbye to baby calls for Grimsby hospital changes
GRIEVING parents have called for a change to hospital procedures which deprived them of saying farewell to their stillborn child.
Sarah Skerry, 24, went into an induced labour on Mother's Day when she was three months pregnant, because a scan revealed her child showed no signs of life.
After the traumatic stillbirth, the distraught mum and her partner, Mark Illingworth, 30, asked staff at Grimsby's Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital for some time alone with their baby.
But the couple, of Louth, were not told that the hospital holds private services for parents in their circumstances.
Sarah, a carer at a residential home, said: "After saying our goodbyes in the ward and the baby being taken away, we thought that was it and the remains had been incinerated.
"We had no idea that a service for a number of parents was held later that week, nor did we know we could have had our own service to say a final goodbye.
"We feel like our baby was on its own. If we had known, we would have had a service. As it was, there was no one at our baby's funeral. Parents should be told."
Under normal circumstances, parents would be made aware of the service, which can be individually arranged to suit parents' wishes.
In a group service, families attend and the ashes of the babies are scattered in the Baby Garden of Grimsby Crematorium. A memorial garden within the hospital's ante-natal unit is also lovingly tended.
Sarah and Mark were not told, and staff later showed them what would have happened at the service and the type of box the remains are carried in.
They took part in a belated service and lit candles for their baby at a service led by chaplain Reverend Anne McCormick.
The couple said they have made a formal complaint to the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the Grimsby site, only in order to make people aware – and not to point blame or seek compensation.
An investigation into the matter has yet to be undertaken, but today the trust said in future, all parents would be informed of the services.
Sarah, who has a four-year-old daughter, Hope, from a previous relationship, has had Baby Illingworth and the date tattooed on her arm.
"I still have my moments and break down," she said.
"I had to ask the staff what had happened five times before I fully understood."
Sarah was also critical of how women going for a scan following a miscarriage are in the same waiting area as expectant mums.
She has called for segregation to meet the needs of grieving parents.
Mark said: "The staff on the ward were fantastic and we had our own room. Our only complaint is we were not told about the service.
"It was nice to hear there was a service, but it would have been better for us to be there.
"It would have meant a lot to us and the fact we missed out has left us feeling we have not had the chance to do the final farewell."
Sue Briggs, operational matron for maternity services at the hospital, said: "We always aim to provide the best and most sympathetic care possible for ladies in Sarah's position.
"We appreciate this is a very difficult time for the family."
Ms McCormick said: "A system is now in place to ensure that all parents in situations like this are informed of the service and the options available to them.
"We are very sorry for the family's loss and if they would like any further support they are more than welcome to contact myself, Sue Briggs or the Patient Advice And Liaison Service at the hospital."