'Many missed opportunities' resulted in boy's death at Bristol Hospital, inquest hears

13 January 2014

'Many missed opportunities' resulted in boy's death at Bristol Hospital, inquest hears

Speaking at the inquest of their son, the parents of a four-year old heart patient who died at the children’s ward at Bristol Hospital have slammed the lack of expertise, care and staff shortages on the ward that culminated in his cardiac arrest and ultimately a brain haemorrhage which took his life.

Sean Turner died in March 2012 six weeks after undergoing corrective heart surgery. His mother Yolanda Turner told an inquest that Sean was desperate for water while recovering from the operation at Bristol Royal children's hospital; so much so that he used moisturised tissues from which he tried to extract water through his mouth.

Sean’s father Steve broke down at the inquest when describing how his son suffered a cardiac arrest as he held him in his arms, slamming the care he received during his stay at the hospital as a shambles. Both Steve and Yolonda explained how they had pleaded for help for Sean, but their concerns were not listened to.

Ward 32 at the hospital is the children’s cardiac ward, and it is the care here that has come under intense scrutiny of late, not only regarding Sean but also a seven year old boy called Luke Jenkins who died in April 2012. Its faults were categorically highlighted in October 2012 by a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report which found that there were insufficient levels of properly qualified nurses for the number of patients being treated. 10 families, including those of Sean and Luke, are considering legal action against the University Hospitals Bristol NHS foundation trust over treatment on ward 32 with two more inquests scheduled for February and March.

If you or somebody you know has experience of the poor care alleged to have taken place on ward 32 or elsewhere at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS foundation, Mistreatment.com is able to provide you with guidance, advice and support about whether or not you may have grounds for legal action and can assist with a medical negligence claim.

The inquest regarding Luke Jenkins also highlighted the same CQC and Sean Turner inquest concerns, that the ward was not only understaffed but that those staff who were present did not listen to concerns raised.

Mrs Turner, from Warminster, Wiltshire said at the inquest that after the operation on Sean had been conducted, his health seriously deteriorated over the following weeks where Sean suffered pain, collapses and dramatic fluid loss. After being returned to ICU he was then shunted back to ward 32 after his parents were told he was not in critical need of ICU. However the return to ward 32 was the "worst decision ever taken for Sean", Mrs Turner said. "That was the beginning of the end for Sean" she added.

She said that alarms continually went off over the next few days, alarms designed to warn staff Sean’s condition was deteriorating, but nurses did not attend to him.

"We kept saying Sean was unwell but nothing was done. Sean was deteriorating but nobody listened to us" she said.

"Our little boy was in terrible pain, struggling to breathe. We tried so hard to get some help. The nurses were so busy."

"I felt so desperate and helpless. I can't understand how a child can be left to suffer for so long."

After surviving cardiac arrest, Sean became so poorly he could not be transferred to another hospital and later suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage. The damage had been done and his parents were told no more could be done for him. “Sean fought so hard. There were so many missed opportunities," Mrs Turner said.

Mr Turner opined at the inquest that whilst he believed the nurses did not lack compassion or any inclination to care for Sean, they simply did not have the knowledge or skill to do so, with a “catalogue of errors” typifying the scant care they did provide.

The inquest continues.

If you or somebody you know has experience of the poor care alleged to have taken place on ward 32 or elsewhere at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS foundation, Mistreatment.com is able to provide you with guidance, advice and support about whether or not you may have grounds for legal action and can assist with a medical negligence claim.