A WOMAN prisoner gave birth to a stillborn baby in shocking circumstances in a prison toilet, without specialist medical assistance or pain relief, an investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) has found.

The 30-year-old mum, referred to as Ms B in the PPO’s report, did not know she was pregnant and told staff at Styal Prison that it was not possible as she 'did not have sexual relationships with men'.

A PPO investigation report found that fellow prisoners and staff had no suspicion that Ms B was pregnant before she gave birth in an emergency on the evening of June 18, 2020, at the prison in Wilmslow.

The Ombudsman said she was satisfied prison staff did not fail to see obvious signs but that there were missed opportunities to identify that Ms B needed urgent clinical attention in the hours before she gave birth.

The woman, in prison for the first time, gave birth to a baby girl in the toilet of her houseblock.

Sue McAllister, PPO, said the woman suffered a 'terrifying, painful and traumatic experience' and her roommate and prison staff were profoundly affected.

The investigation found that a prison supervising officer made three calls to the duty nurse, raising concerns about Ms B, during a period of two hours from shortly before 7pm on June 18.

The nurse, without seeing Ms B, concluded incorrectly that she was bleeding and suffering severe stomach pain as a result of a painful period. The nurse did not go to see Ms B.

“Even at a distance this is a deeply sad and distressing case,” said Mrs McAllister.

"It is not acceptable that a prisoner should be in unexplained acute pain for several hours without proper assessment or consideration of pain relief.

The report does not believe that the nurse should have concluded that this was a maternity emergency from the information provided.

"However, acute abdominal pain can have a variety of causes, some of which are very serious," said Mrs McAllister.

"We consider that the information provided was sufficient to have caused the nurse to visit Ms B, and that she should have done so.

"Had proper triage taken place, Ms B might have given birth in hospital with proper clinical support and medication instead of in a prison toilet with untrained staff."

"All the other staff who tried to help Ms B and baby B during and after the delivery acted with humanity and to the best of their abilities."

The Ombudsman said the PPO is not able to say whether the baby could have survived if Ms B had been taken to hospital earlier that evening.

She added:“We consider that this would need to be determined by a court on the basis of expert evidence commissioned for that purpose.”

The investigation found that there is no guidance to prison staff on what to do in the event of an unexpected birth.

The report recommends that women are offered a pregnancy test at both the initial and secondary health assessments after arriving at prison.

Further recommendations propose that nurses in women’s prisons should have training in recognising early labour, and that all staff in women’s prisons need to know what to do in the event of an unexpected birth.

The Prison Service and the NHS have accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations and produced an action plan setting out how they will be implemented.