At an inquest in Sheffield yesterday, coroner Chris Dorries recorded neglect as a contributing factor in Summer Hawcroft’s death.
He had adjourned the inquest two years ago and referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service after it emerged there had been a 30-minute delay in Summer’s treatment when she developed breathing difficulties despite pleas by staff to consultant paediatrician Vishwanath Kamoji for action. Prosecutors decided to take no further action.
Summer had been born prematurely on April 23, 2011 at Barnsley Hospital. A week later, her condition deteriorated and she needed help with her breathing but in the early hours of May 4, her breathing tube attached to a ventilator became dislodged.
The inquest was told there was a significant delay before action was taken to remove the tube. Summer was starved of oxygen and suffered catastrophic brain damage. She was transferred to the Jessop Wing in Sheffield but died in her mother’s arms on June 11.
In his narrative verdict, Mr Dorries criticised the lack of action to remove the tube by Dr Kamoji.
“It’s apparent that he became fixed upon a thought and would not listen to others,” he said.
Yesterday Summer’s parents, of Kendray, Barnsley, spoke of their anger over her care and demanded the GMC take action against Dr Kamoji. It has previously examined the case but not taken it forward.
Summer’s mother Michaela Hawcroft, 28, said: “No parent should ever have to see their child die before them. We have all been robbed of sharing in her life and all the special milestones that includes. Every 23rd of April we will be mourning Summer, rather than celebrating her birthday.
“That Summer’s death at just seven weeks old could and should have been avoided makes our grief all the more difficult to bear. Whilst nothing can change what happened and bring Summer back, we hope the GMC will now do the right thing, both for us and for Summer.”
Matthew Brown, a specialist clinical negligence lawyer with Raleys Solicitors, said Mrs Hawcroft and her husband Stephen’s pain in reliving the tragedy at the inquest had been compounded after Dr Kamoji had refused to answer any questions which might incriminate him.
“Whilst the legal system affords him that right, the consequence is that Michaela and Stephen have been left infuriated, exasperated and still unsure as to exactly what happened during the crucial moments of their baby daughter’s care,” he said.
“Whilst they welcome the coroner’s finding that neglect contributed to their daughter’s death, given the circumstances and facts they are extremely disappointed that Mr Dorries stopped short of finding that ‘unlawful killing’ was the appropriate verdict in this case.”
Now he said the family’s “last remaining wish” was that the GMC took action.
Barnsley hospital has admitted liability and settled a claim for its failings in the case.
Its medical director Richard Jenkins said: “The coroner’s inquest has raised a number of issues about her care and we have appreciated being given the opportunity to comment on these and demonstrate how we have learnt from the experience and improved our procedures and training to ensure that no other baby suffers harm under our care.”