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Company fined as baby delivered by mobile phone light

The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was plunged into darkness in December

A PRIVATE health firm is to be fined after a power cut forced a father to use the light from his mobile phone to help midwives deliver his child.

The pregnant woman was in the birthing pool at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary when the ward was plunged in to darkness.

Back-up generators then failed to kick in, meaning midwives had to rely on light from the partner’s mobile to see by.

The private firm which runs the hospital, Consort, has confirmed that it will be fined over the incident, which happened during a December storm.

It is understood that the fine could be as much as £100,000.

The firm said “minor interference” in the system had prevented the back-up generators kicking in.

The storms on December 8, nicknamed Hurricane Bawbag on social media sites, cut the main power supply to the hospital.

Staff were able to keep A&E, intensive care and theatres open using emergency batteries but the rest of the hospital was in the dark for 11 minutes.

Health chiefs are said to be very alarmed at the failure and it is understood health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has been told of the power outage.


A senior source said: “The woman was in the birthing pool when the power went out and left the room in complete darkness. The husband got his mobile phone out, turning it around and was able to use it as a torch.

“The staff carried on and had just enough light to deliver the baby.

“Mum and baby were absolutely fine. It was quick thinking by the dad and fantastic work by the staff.”

The staff union, Unison, said the hospital had been hit repeatedly by power cuts in recent years.

Branch chairman Tom Waterson, said: “That’s the first incident of this kind, but staff have become used to having to deal with these power outages in recent years.

“Although patients will be happy consort are having to to pay the penalty, they’d be happier to see and end to power outages.”

Jackie Sansbury, Chief Operating Officer, NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian’s PFI provider, Consort, did not meet the performance requirements for the month of December, as laid down in our contract.

“As a result, a penalty will be imposed and meetings are under way to establish the exact amount to be levied.

“We must be able to offer our patients the best standards at all times.”

Consort director Stephen Gordon said: “There were significant storms that day and Scottish Power’s supply to the site went down.

“That automatically starts up our stand-by generators. There were some minor interferences in the distribution of power which meant areas of the site didn’t get power for a little while. There was no issue in terms of patient safety but clearly there were areas of the hospital which didn’t get power as quickly as we’d have liked.”

He added: “We test our equipment and do our utmost to ensure these things don’t happen, but as with any piece of equipment sometimes things fail.

“The reason for the penalty is there’s a clause in the contract that if power isn’t supplied after a certain period, we [have to pay] a certain amount.”

Consort has come under fire in recent weeks.

Last week it emerged the casualty department of the hospital had been left with just one security guard for three days over the busy weekend period.

And the firm also failed to tell NHS Lothian about the failure of fire alarms in one area of the hospital for eight days.

The company also employed staff without carrying out criminal background checks.

It is currently running Disclosure Scotland checks on all 580 staff who work at the hospital.


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