An investigation into Bristol Royal Hospital for Children has concluded that children receiving cardiac treatment were repeatedly given poor care and that parents were let down over a four year period – sparking a nationwide review of similar services.
The two-year inquiry examined the care of 27 children, including 11 who died between 2010 and 2014. At least seven children were treated on the same ward of the hospital.
Significantly, this review was not trigged by the hospital itself, or NHS bosses recognising failings which were causing serious risk.
It was triggered by the parents of four-year-old Sean Turner, who sadly died in March 2012, when they made their concerns public.
An inquest into Sean’s death had concluded that there had been lost opportunities in the little boy’s care, but that they did not amount to neglect. Believing the care provided after Sean underwent corrective heart surgery was substandard, his parents Steve and Yolanda turned to social media to tweet the NHS’s medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, urging him to ‘sort this out’.
Subsequently, a review has since taken place involving 237 families whose children were treated at the hospital, 50 meetings with members of staff, and the analysis of more than 6,000 documents from the Hospital Trust.
It has been reported that Mr Keogh met with seven families whose children either died or were left seriously ill following treatment in Bristol, and 27 families have been given individual reports over their children’s care.
Sean’s family have expressed disappointment, saying they still feel areas have been ‘whitewashed over’ and ‘ignored’.
However, they should today feel proud of what they have achieved.
The NHS is now to review standards in every children’s intensive care unit across the country. It is likely to identify more areas of underperformance and risk, which will have to be addressed and hopefully lead to fewer unexpected deaths of young people.
Hospitals must be held to account for failings in care causing serious risk
In our work as medical negligence specialists at Hudgell Solicitors, we are regularly contacted by family members who have been left bereft as a result of failings in basic medical and nursing care that has taken a loved one from them in a tragic and untimely manner.
It has often taken great courage for them to call us, mainly because we have such great faith in the NHS, which in the main, provides excellent standards of care.
However, we know and see the importance of holding medical trusts to account when serious errors are made, and not allowing them to be brushed under the carpet. This review highlights the importance or families being placed at the heart of the process, the need to listen to their concerns, and what patients’ families can achieve.
We hope this enquiry will significantly reduce the risk of neglect at the children’s cardiac services in Bristol for all those relying on its care – and at others across the country.
A number of families are said to be pursuing legal action against this Trust, a process which is never easy, but one which specialist firms such as ourselves are dedicated to helping families with.
We know they need answers for their loved ones, and that those answers can protect many more in the future.