Mum having twins rushed 100 miles to London hospital because no incubators for premature tots

A mum-to-be was rushed more than 100 miles by ambulance from Birmingham to London – because there were no incubators for her premature twins.

Jodie Cole was taken from Heartlands Hospital to St Mary’s in the capital on July 15 after her waters broke and medical staff were unable to find a bed and two incubators closer to home.

The dash came after the 20-year-old had already waited more than ten hours for a bed at Heartlands, her partner said.

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The twins, Oakley and Brodie, were eventually born via C-section at 32 weeks on Monday, July 19 and were said to be doing well at St Mary’s.

But Jodie’s partner, Will Greenhalgh, 19, said he was stunned by her ordeal. The teenager said he was not allowed to travel in the ambulance and instead rushed to London by car with Jodie’s dad.

Jodie Cole and Will Greenhalgh in hospital.

“I know everyone pays National Insurance and tax so I’m not a special exception but our taxes should be going towards stuff like this,” he said.

“For every hospital in Birmingham not to have two cots, it doesn’t make sense. If she was having six babies in one go then fair enough but she was having two and not every woman in Birmingham was giving birth on the same day.”

Will claimed Heartlands contacted more than a dozen hospitals in the West Midlands to no avail, leaving Jodie – who takes medication for anxiety – forced to travel to the capital to have her babies.

‘A review is needed’

Jodie, from Chelmsley Wood, arrived at Heartlands with Will, from Alum Rock, after her waters broke at 5am on July 15.

She was examined on arrival at around 7am and told she was two centimetres dilated. The couple claimed staff then told her no bed was available so she had to remain in a waiting room.

They said a bed was not found until more than ten hours later, at 5.30pm.

But they claimed, around two hours later, staff informed them they did not have two incubators for the premature twins.

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New parents Jodie Cole and Will Greenhalgh with their twins after a 100-mile ambulance dash to a London hospital from Heartlands.

“When they did find Jodie a bed on the ward, we thought that meant there must have been space,” said Will, a facilities manager.

“Jodie suffers from anxiety and takes medication to help. So on top of that, she wasn’t in the best place.

“The hospital was aware of her mental health and what it was like before the pregnancy. They should have been extra-cautious and more considerate.”

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They claimed Heartlands staff then contacted all hospitals in Birmingham to see if somewhere else could take her.

But they said that was unsuccessful and the couple said they were told staff contacted more than a dozen hospitals before they found one with a bed and two incubators.

That hospital was St Mary’s, where she was transported immediately in an ambulance with blue lights.

Will described the situation as “frustrating”, questioning how there couldn’t be a single hospital in the West Midlands with a bed and two incubators.

Jodie Cole, 20, and Will Greenhalgh, 19, told of their harrowing experience

Jodie Cole, 20, and Will Greenhalgh, 19, told of their harrowing experience

The following day, doctors at St Mary’s decided the birth was not imminent and asked that Jody be transferred back to Heartlands, where family could be with her.

But Will claimed Heartlands refused to take her back, stating they had neither a bed nor incubators available.

Will told BirminghamLive he didn’t feel Heartlands had treated Jodie well throughout the pregnancy. He claimed the couple had been left “running around” on multiple occasions with Jodie waiting in the wrong department, causing her to miss appointments.

“The whole reason we want to get this out there is for the recognition of what’s happened more than anything,” Will added.

“We hope that, when it gets recognised, some of sort of review will be put in place.”

Will said he had since been told a communication error that meant he couldn’t accompany Jodie in the ambulance.

He said he had later been informed that he could have gone with her, meaning he risked missing the birth of his twins for no reason.

Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham

Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham

“I was extremely worried I was going to miss it. All I knew is that Jodie had become dilated by 2cm and her waters had broken,” Will explained.

“And Jodie was anxious as well, she didn’t want me to miss it. She’d been on the phone to me crying and frantically texting me.

“I was in Alum Rock 120 miles away. I felt helpless and powerless. As a father and partner, I was in a predicament where I didn’t know what I could do.

“We phoned [St Mary’s] and they said that if Heartlands had asked they would have known that I could have gone down in the ambulance.”

Will praised St Mary’s for their work.

“I wouldn’t say any of the blame lies with St Mary’s at all.

“It is a good hospital. I would like to praise them for helping us the way they have.

“Here they have an amazing around-the-clock team. I’ve been allowed to stay with Jodie despite all the Covid rules and they have even given us our own private room which is like a hotel if I’m honest.

“They have given Jodie the best care. They have supported her through the C-section very well, they have supported her since the C-section very well and they have supported us with the children very well, knowing we are both young adults and it can be a very stressful situation being so far from home with no family or friends.”

He added they were lucky they had support and family around them.

Will added: “My message to Heartlands is that I would like them to review their current practices.

“They have treated us very poorly at Heartlands throughout the whole of the pregnancy.

“I would like an apology from them for what they have done and what they have put us through.

“I would like also them to review their systems because, if any other younger people went through this, it could cause massive turmoil.

What Heartlands Hospital said

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham, which runs Heartlands, said: “Where a pregnancy may be high-risk, or cases where demand for neonatal intensive care is high, expectant mums may be transferred to other hospitals to ensure that the appropriate level of care can be provided to both mum and baby.

“We fully understand and appreciate that transfers may be upsetting, and we are sorry for any distress or anxiety such a transfer may cause, however we must always ensure the safety and wellbeing of mums and their babies.”

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