Bristol Children's Hospital sued over children allegedly left neglected and dying on wards
BRISTOL's children's hospital has been accused of a catalogue of neglect and mistreatment of children with heart problems.
A group of families is taking legal action against University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust over its treatment of newborn babies and youngsters who died, or suffered complications, during treatment.
The complaints related to a four-year period from 2008, it has been reported. The claim centres on 10 families, including seven whose children died following treatment at the hospital, many of whom have featured in The Post before.
Previously, some have spoken out about "inept care" and called for a public inquiry into what they saw as "chronically low standards".
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Bristol Children's Hospital has robustly defended its mortality record, however.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the families suing the trust include that of Luke Jenkins, right, seven, who died of cardiac arrest within a week of heart surgery last March, and Sean Turner, four. He died of a brain haemorrhage in the same month after staff allegedly did not identify that his condition was worsening.
His parents, Stephen and Yolanda Turner, from Wiltshire, claimed alarms in the ward were left unanswered and say they pleaded fro him to be returned to intensive care.
Both of the boys were recovering from planned surgery and their parents raised specific concerns about after care on the hospital's ward 32.
The families reported their concerns to health watchdog the Care Quality Commission, which found that staff shortages on the ward were having a "major impact" on patient care and that high dependency care was not provided, despite children there requiring that level of care.
"All we want is the truth," Mr Turner said following his son's death. "After the nightmare we lived through with Sean we deserve nothing less than the truth. That is vitally important for other families as well.
"Other families should not have to suffer what we suffered. This shouldn't be swept under the carpet and forgotten and things left to go on unchanged."
The families want an admission of wrong-doing, which could open the door for compensation to be awarded.
Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of the trust which runs the children's hospital, said: "We care for some of the sickest children, coming to us for very complex surgical procedures. Whenever something goes wrong, it is devastating, for the child and parents and upsetting for our team.
"When we provide care that falls short of what we expect we always seek to learn from it and we have formal processes that enable us to do this and share lessons. When a child dies in hospital, external, independent reviews are also conducted and form part of that learning.
"All paediatric cardiac surgery carries with it significant risk and these risks are explained to parents. Despite these risks and the complex needs of the children we care for, we have results among the best in England."
He said that for 2000-2008, the hospital had the third best mortality rates when compared between the 11 current surgical centres in England.
He added: "Mortality figures for 2007- 2010 show that the Bristol centre had a 1.6 per cent mortality rate for surgical procedures in the under one year age group and one per cent in the one to 15-year-old age group.
"In July 2012, it was announced that Bristol Children's Hospital will be designated as one of seven specialist surgical centres in England."
A trust spokeswoman was unable to confirm the status of the families' legal proceedings.