Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Bristol Children’s Hospital – Has History Repeated Itself?

The Report of the Independent Review of Children’s Cardiac Services in Bristol has now been released. The report was commissioned by NHS England’s Medical Director, following a tweet by the parents of Sean Turner, a young boy who died in March 2012 at the age of 4. The tweet to Professor Sir Bruce Keogh pleaded for the quality of care and treatment for paediatric cardiac patients to be “sorted out”, following a Coroner’s ruling that the hospital had not failed their son. Sean suffered a brain haemorrhage and cardiac arrest 6 weeks after undergoing corrective heart surgery. His parents alleged that he had been transferred to the ward at Bristol Children’s Hospital from intensive care too soon and that medics had missed signs of his worsening condition.

The 2016 report focuses on cardiac services provided by University Bristol NHS Foundation Trust between March 2010 and June 2016 to children born with congenital heart disease.

The report identified that on a number of occasions the care provided “was less good and parents were let down”. The report looked in particular at care on Ward 32, a specialist cardiac ward. The report identified that staff on the ward were under pressure in terms of numbers available and range of skills required. This led to “less than good care for children and poor communication with parents and families”. A number of recommendations have been made both to the Trust and NHS England to specifically address this and also to address wider issues for paediatric care within the Trust, particularly provision of paediatric intensive care beds.

The review also reached the conclusion that at times, senior managers failed adequately to understand and respond effectively to the concerns of families.

The report makes it clear that there was no evidence to suggest that there were failures in care and treatment of the nature previously identified in the Bristol Public Enquiry of 1998 to 2001. The report following this enquiry which was released in 2001, concluded that paediatric cardiac surgery services at Bristol were “simply not up to the task”, because of shortages of key surgeons and nurses, and there was a lack of leadership, accountability, and teamwork.

Whilst it is clear that progress has made since 2001, further improvement is required to ensure children with congenital heart disease receive appropriate care and treatment. Families continue to be effected by poor care and further changes need to be made.

If you, or anyone you know, has been affected by poor cardiac care or treatment, contact one of our specialist medical negligence lawyers on 0800 316 8892.