A Covid-infected pregnant woman has claimed she lost her baby after being forced to wait for two-and-a-half hours in a hospital car park.
Fationa Nikolli, who was 32 weeks pregnant at the time, rushed to Birmingham Women’s hospital at 10am on July 6 because she could no longer feel her unborn child.
But the mother-of-two, who lives five minutes away from the hospital, says she was asked to wait in the car park by nurses because she had Covid.
When she was finally brought in at 12.30pm after doctors found a private room that she could be isolated in, Ms Nikolli was rushed for an emergency C-section. But her son was stillborn.
Ms Nikolli, who asked for her face not to be shown, claimed a doctor told her: ‘If you had come in before, I could have saved the baby.’
Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has apologised to Ms Nikolli and admitted it was ‘not able to be there for her in the way we would want or expect’.
A full investigation is underway and the trust says it has made changes over how to handle Covid-positive mothers-to-be.
The NHS says online that pregnant women who notice their baby is moving less than usual should call their midwife immediately.
Guidance says Covid-positive pregnant women worried about their babies should also leave self-isolation and attend hospital if told to by their midwife. They will be required to wear a face mask inside any building.
Covid rarely causes serious illness among pregnant women, the NHS says, although this is more likely in the later stages. Doctors say there is no evidence that the virus causes miscarriages and that the risks of stillbirth are low.
Fationa Nikolli (above), who asked for her face not to be pictured, said a doctor told her that her baby could have been saved if she was seen earlier
She rushed to Birmingham Women’s Hospital (pictured). Nurses left her outside for two-and-a-half hours while they found a private room for her
Ms Nikolli said she had a check up the day before the tragedy, but that it found her baby was healthy.
She told Birmingham Live: ‘If they had taken me in hospital before, maybe the baby would still be alive.
‘I went with Covid, I called the hospital, I said: “I want to come because I don’t feel the baby”.
Does catching Covid put you at higher risk of a miscarriage?
Pregnant women who catch coronavirus are not more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth or to deliver a baby with a low birth weight, a study in February 2021 found.
The research included 4,000 pregnant women in the UK and US and found Covid did not increase the risk of a pregnancy going wrong.
Advice for mothers-to-be during the pandemic has been cautious, with the NHS putting them in a ‘clinically vulnerable’ group.
But there has been a lack of quality evidence to prove whether they are or aren’t put in extra danger by Covid.
Children seem to barely get sick with the virus unless they already have severe health problems.
And the study, by Imperial College London, suggested the same is true of unborn babies and newborns. No babies died of Covid in the study and only around 10 per cent of them tested positive after birth.
Although women were more likely to die if they had Covid than if they didn’t, this risk was the same as for a non-pregnant woman, suggesting their baby was not a factor.
Premature delivery was more likely in the women testing positive for coronavirus, the researchers found, but this appeared to be because doctors were deciding to induce labour because they were over-cautious about Covid.
‘They said: “Yes come” and when I got to the hospital, they left me two and a half hours in the car park.’
She claimed that despite telling medics it was an ’emergency’ there was a long delay until they found a separate room, isolated from other patients.
Ms Nikolli added: ‘I said to them “I can’t feel the baby, you need to bring me inside the hospital straight away and don’t leave me in car park”.
‘I’d stayed in the car park because they said I could not come inside as I was (Covid) positive. They said they needed to find one room for me.
‘I waited outside the hospital two hours and a half and when I got inside, I waited for (another) 20 minutes.’
When Ms Nikolli was finally seen by a doctor, they said her baby was still alive but that their heart rate was too slow.
She said: ‘When I gave birth, when I lost the baby and I came out from the surgery, they said: “Your baby is stillborn”.
‘They told me I should come see the baby. I told them I didn’t want to, I wasn’t prepared for this.’
After the stillbirth Ms Nikolli was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital next door to receive oxygen as her levels were too low due to Covid itself.
She says that she still has not heard anything from the hospital three months later.
Ms Nikolli said that she had no issues during the pregnancy.
It is not clear what caused her baby to stop moving, but it may have been sparked by complications such as nuchal cord — when the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around a baby’s neck.
She said: ‘I don’t know anything at the moment, I’m waiting. I’ve called them many times, to know something.
‘Maybe it was because I was positive for coronavirus, I don’t know.’
Dr Fiona Reynolds, the chief medical officer at the trust, said: ‘We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to Fationa and her family.
‘We were not able to be there for her in the way we would want or expect.
‘We have made a number of immediate changes and improvements to how we manage Covid positive women should we experience an increase or surge in attendances to ensure all women and babies are cared for safely.
‘A full investigation into what happened is progressing to enable us to understand why Fationa’s baby died and if anything could have been done differently to avoid this devastating outcome.
‘We aim for all investigations to involve the family at the centre of care to ensure their voices are heard.
‘A senior midwife has engaged with them with continued, regular contact with Fationa through our Bereavement Midwives who will continue to offer support in any way that they can.’
Birmingham Women’s Hospital is one of only two dedicated women’s hospitals in the UK, and delivers more than 8,200 babies every year.
Ms Nikolli, pictured in her garden, said her baby was still alive when the C-section began
Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that Covid-positive pregnant women concerned about their babies should attend hospital.
It says: ‘If you have concerns about the well-being of yourself or your unborn baby during your self-isolation period, contact your midwife or, if out-of-hours, your maternity unit.
‘They will provide further advice, including whether you need to attend hospital.’
It adds: ‘If you are advised to go to the maternity unit or hospital, you will be asked to travel by private transport, or arranged hospital transport and to alert the maternity unit reception once on site before going into the hospital.
‘You will be required to wear a mask or face covering.’
Pregnant women have been placed in the ‘vulnerable’ risk category for Covid because it is a new virus.
The NHS says online, however, that it is very rare for pregnant women to become seriously ill if they catch the disease.
They say that although the chances of having a stillbirth are low if women have Covid, some evidence suggests they may be higher if the woman is infected at the time of birth.
Pregnant women are being offered the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines to protect them against severe disease.