An under-fire children’s hospital has defended its record after a second family claimed inept care killed their son.
Managers at Bristol Children’s Hospital admitted earlier this month that a child died partly due to bank holiday staff shortages.
Now a grieving family is calling for a public inquiry, claiming chronically low standards are putting children’s lives at risk.
In particular they claim children on Ward 32 are in danger because of staff shortages and lack of proper training.
Stephen and Yolanda Turner claim their son Sean’s case is not isolated and have urged other parents to come forward with their own stories.
Sean, four, died of a brain haemorrhage in March after previously suffering a cardiac arrest while on the ward. His death at the hospital came six weeks after he underwent vital corrective heart surgery.
The couple, from Warminster, Wiltshire, claim they pleaded for Sean to be returned to intensive care as his condition worsened.
They later hit out in an official letter of complaint which lists a host of shortcomings regarding their son’s care.
They claim ward hygiene was poor, staff incompetent and Sean neglected to the point where he had an avoidable cardiac arrest.
Robert Woolley, chief executive of University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust, 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 also 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 reviews are also conducted and form part of that learning.”
He added: “Although we care for some of the sickest children with the most complex needs, we have results among the best in England.
“A comparative outcomes assessment for 2000-08 undertaken as part of a recent review showed that the Bristol service has the third best mortality rates when mortality rates are compared between the 11 current surgical centres in England.
“Mortality figures for 2007-10 show that the Bristol centre had a 1.6% mortality rate for surgical procedures in the under-one year age group and 1% in the one to 15-year-old age group.
“Since 2009, a national review of children’s congenital heart services has taken place which rigorously assessed the quality of care in existing centres.
“In July of this year, it was announced that the Bristol Children’s Hospital will be designated as one of seven specialist surgical centres in England.”
He added: “Sean Turner was a seriously ill child with unusually complex congenital heart disease. Our clinical team did their best for him, making clinical decisions about how best to treat and care for him on an hour-by-hour basis as his condition changed.
“A review of Sean’s care has identified where it could have been improved and we have apologised to his parents for any shortcomings. We have implemented some actions immediately and are working to implement others.
“We have met with Mr and Mrs Turner and been in contact with them for several weeks. We have a full understanding of their questions, are looking into those and will respond to them privately.”