Ambulance training questioned after death

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THE London Ambulance Service was last night urged by a local health authority to review its training and staffing procedures after a disciplinary hearing heard how a baby died while being treated by two inexperienced ambulancemen.

Chanel Neenan died of suffocation on 15 March this year, 90 minutes after being born at her parents house in Rotherhithe, south London, because mucus was not cleared from her throat.

At an inquest in June into the child's death, the Southwark coroner, Sir Montague Levine, criticised the ambulancemen, Anthony Skinner and Paul Murphy, for their 'lack of judgement'.

Following a two-day disciplinary hearing it was decided the men would be split up and put with more experienced ambulance crews and given more training.

The recommendations for further training might also have wider implications for all London Ambulance Service staff, Giles Duncan, the director of human resources and administration at South West Thames Regional Health Authority, said.

The inquest was told the ambulance crew had received only an hour's training on dealing with complications at birth.

A statement issued by the health authority after the hearing, which was held in camera, said that the ambulancemen would 'not be formally disciplined'. But it gave a list of recommendations, saying: 'Having learnt that this was the first birth that either ambulancemen had attended we recommend they are separated and join more experienced ambulance crews.'

It said it would review the training of other recently qualified staff, make recommendations for further training and consider the need for the attendance of midwives at births which took place outside hospital.

After the hearing Mr Duncan said: 'It was clear the role of the crew was not the only area the LAS needs to learn lessons from.

'The LAS needs to look at the way training is translated into the


But he said the authority could make no guarantee that that kind of accident could not happen again.

'What we would say is that the LAS deals with thousands of cases every year and fortunately tragic cases like this are very rare.'