Neglect by NHS staff played role in boy’s death

THE parents of a five-year-old boy who died days after he was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties have welcomed a coroner’s ruling that neglect by medical staff played a part in the tragedy.

Donald Coutts-Wood, coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire, said Harry Mould, of Greenleys in Buckinghamshire, died of natural causes.

But he said neglect was a contributory factor and accused Milton Keynes Hospital of a “gross failure to provide basic medical attention to Harry”.

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Harry was admitted to the hospital with breathing difficulties on March 26, 2009. He was later transferred to Leicester Royal Infirmary where he died on March 31.

His family claimed he was not checked regularly by staff at the hospital.

The inquest heard that Harry, who suffered from asthma, died from a lower respiratory infection and had suffered a brain injury during his time in hospital.

The coroner said Harry had not received “all the appropriate observations and care that he required” for just over an hour at the hospital in Milton Keynes on March 27. This led to oxygen deprivation that resulted in his death, amounting to the “gross failure” to provide him with basic medical attention.

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“The failure has a clear and direct causal connection with Harry’s death, and had action been taken prior to, or shortly after 8.30pm, he would, on the balance of probabilities have survived,” he said.

The trust that runs the hospital admitted that staff did not listen to the concerns of Harry’s parents, Odette and Lee Mould, and apologised for the “unimaginable” distress they had been through.

Mrs Mould, 33, said: “It basically for us is everything we have always thought, but we needed the evidence to be shown to the coroner.

“We are pleased with the result and we feel that we can now concentrate on our family.

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“It has been a process for us of getting answers and making changes. We don’t want any other children in the same situation as Harry.”

Responding to the hospital’s apology and its vow to make improvements, she said: “It is gutting that it took our son to have to die for those changes to be made but it is not a case of damning hospitals and staff, it is about making sure they make the changes they need to make.”

She added: “It has been a long, long process and we have got relief now, it feels like a big weight off our shoulders.”

Trust medical director Martin Wetherill apologised for the failings and fully accepted the verdict.

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“The distress that Mr and Mrs Mould have been through over the last two years is unimaginable and we should have formally apologised to them before now. Harry’s care and treatment at the hospital did not come up to the standard that we expect.

“While Harry was in our hospital we failed to listen to his parents’ concerns.

“We have learned from this that we must listen to families and we will be concentrating now on improving our communications with our patients.”

He added: “Recent changes have included the further development of high dependency care. The trust has also substantially improved its paediatric early warning system which alerts staff if there is cause for concern.”