Heart unit facing further scrutiny over care

Leeds General Infirmary
Leeds General Infirmary
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THE PARENTS of a schoolboy who died following heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary have received an apology after legal action exposed a series of failings in his care.

Kevin and Sharon Brough enlisted the help of experts to uncover the truth about exactly what happened after their 11-year-old son Bradley was admitted to the children’s heart surgery unit, forcing the hospital trust to admit that the standards of the surgeon who carried out an operation on him in 2010 fell below acceptable.

An apology from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s medical director Bryan Gill also said experts brought in from London Children’s Heart Surgery Centre were critical of the surgery carried out on the youngster, while the whole unit came under fire for “confused messages” over his treatment.

Mr Gill said: “The clear opinion of the experts was that there were errors in the decision-making by the whole team.

“At times the confusion that reigned over communication with different members of your family was very clearly distressing and I am truly sorry that we did not get this right. I want to say how truly sorry I am for the errors in care that have been identified by all the experts who have reviewed Bradley’s treatment.”

In a BBC ‘Inside Out’ documentary due to be broadcast in Yorkshire this evening, Mrs Brough, from York, details the agonising episode.

Bradley was born with a complex congenital heart defect, that needed an operation to divert the flow of blood.

She said she was given assurances by surgeon Nihal Weerasena, currently suspended by the trust, before the youngster underwent surgery.

Mrs Brough said: “We were confident it would be a success, the surgeon told me he was one of the surgeons in the UK who would be picked to perform this and he had done a few.”

After nine hours, during which time Bradley’s mother and father say they were “kept in the dark”, were told something had gone wrong.

But following three visits to an operating theatre within two days, Bradley suffered a bleed on the brain.

A cardiac surgeon consulted by the family’s legal team concluded that Bradley’s care “fell below acceptable standards on several occasions”.

He said the youngster had undergone a “wrong operation, incorrectly performed” and that the decision to reverse Bradley’s surgery came far too late.

The family’s lawyer Margaret Ryan said: “The first decision to proceed to surgery was wrong.

“Then when they did the surgery, they did it wrong...and then they delayed in putting things right.”

Mr and Mrs Brough have now received a payout from the trust.

The Inside Out programme goes on to detail how nine families whose children were treated at the unit before it was closed in 2013 due to safety fears, are preparing to mount legal battles of their own. While a year-long review from health watchdogs at NHS England found that it was “safe and running well”, lawyers predict they will uncover further damning evidence of sub-standard treatment.

Dr Yvette Oade, the trust’s chief medical officer, said: “Lessons from Bradley’s death have been learned and changes have been put in place as a result.”