The mother of a baby girl who died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital after serious failures by staff is to sue the NHS over her daughter’s “preventable and predictable” death.
Paula Stevenson, whose 13-month-old daughter, Hayley Fullerton, died after undergoing open heart surgery in 2009, also called for a change of culture within the NHS.
Ms Stevenson issued her call for US-style “rapid response teams” to be introduced to British hospitals after a coroner said Hayley would have had a better chance of survival if she had been admitted to intensive care.
Hayley, who underwent surgery to repair a heart condition in October 2009, died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital on November 11 that year after being transferred from a paediatric intensive care unit to a general ward.
Ms Stevenson said the hospital represented “bullies, cowards and hypocrites” and said she believed Hayley’s death could have been avoided.
In an internal review, the NHS found that a “hierarchy” among medics deterred junior staff from referring Hayley back to a paediatric intensive care unit in the days before she died.
Ms Stevenson, 40, told the inquest during an earlier hearing that she believed her daughter, who was born in Northern Ireland on October 6 2008 with a heart defect, could have lived if staff at Birmingham Children’s Hospital had listened to her concerns. The court heard that Hayley underwent palliative surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast weeks after she was born.
She was then flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for corrective heart surgery on October 14 2009. Ms Stevenson said the operation was a success and Hayley was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit, where she spent 17 days before being moved to a normal ward.
Recording a narrative verdict, Birmingham Coroner Aidan Cotter said the failings in Hayley’s care were serious rather than gross.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’ve taken all the steps possible to learn from this.