THE parents of a baby who died at just 56 minutes old say theywere let down by medical staff.

Gemma and David Wood, of Hayes Close, Canvey, spoke out after an inquest into the death of Harrison Wood at Southend Hospital. Harrison was born healthy at the hospital on February 1, 2012.

A Chelmsford inquest yesterday heard a post mortem found Harrison died from natural causes, after contracting congenital pneumonia.

Mr and Mrs Wood say the hospital failed in its duty of care as MrsWood had to wait four hours to be assessed, even though she was dehydrated.

Speaking after coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray ruled Harrison died of natural causes, Mr Wood, 28, said: “The whole time we were trying to get someone to notice. It was our first baby. We didn’t know what was normal. There was no duty of care to Gemma as the mother.

“When she was dehydrated all they did was offer her tea and toast.

“We went to Basildon Hospital for our other children and it has been fantastic.”

MrsWood, 27, said: “We felt let down. All we’ve had is one meeting with the complaints department.

I had a bereavement midwife and I couldn’t fault her care but she wasn’t able to explain to me what had happened.

“To go from such a high – I held him for a minute and then the colour started to drain from him and they took him away.”

The inquest heard Mrs Wood showed signs of dehydration after being admitted on January 31, 2012 at around 12.30pm. She was classed as low-risk and doctors were called to emergency deliveries, but by 5.30pm she had a high temperature and labour was progressing.

Mr Wood said his wife was not reviewed until 10.30pm. An independent consultant, Mr Malcolm Griffiths, told the inquest Mrs Wood should have been prescribed antibiotics when her temperature flared up an hour before Harrison was born.

He added that it “was daft” for medics to stop using a hormone to induce labour to wait for Mrs Wood’s temperature to go down.

The inquest heard the hospital had launched an investigation after Harrison’s death, but the coroner criticised the trust.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said the hospital was wrong for not talking through its investigation with Mr and Mrs Wood.

She said: “What I think is really sad, is the family’s perception that the hospital was not supportive and didn’t give as much assistance as they needed.”

The hospital has put a new action plan into place and says it has issued newsletters and guidance to staff after Harrison’s death.

Cheryl Schwarz, the hospital’s acting chief nurse, said: “The trust is very sorry for the tragic death of Harrison, and extends its sincere condolences to the family for their loss. We always look to improve patient care and have sought to learn lessons from this sad case.”

HARRISON’S family say they hope to raise awareness of an unusual infection.

It was suspected Harrison, as well as suffering from congenital pneumonia, may have become infected with group b streptococcus (GBS) – a bacteria thought to be carried by one in four women.

The fast-acting infectionalthough usually harmless, can be passed from mother to newborn baby. Doctors in the UK rarely screen for the bacteria, but in the US, Australia, Canada and 19 other countries pregnant women are tested for it.

Pathologist Dr Irene Scheinberg, who carried out the postmortem, said: “I think the infection was actually present for some hours. There are cases where mothers don’t even have a temperature. It could have been there for a couple of hours.” The Woods have gone on to have two other children, a 19-month-old daughter and a seven- week old son with no evidence of GBS ever found in Mrs Wood or the children.

But the family have since raised more than £1,000 for Group B Strep Support after turning to the charity for advice after Harrison died.

To find out more about GBS, visit