Grieving mother vows to sue hospital trust

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 October 2011

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A MOTHER has spoken of the 'gut wrenching' moment it was confirmed that hospital neglect contributed to her two-year-old son's death and has vowed to take legal action against the hospital where he was treated.

The Mercury reported last week on its front page how toddler Lucas Wellsted was found dead on his bedroom floor just hours after being sent home from Weston General Hospital.

His family, including mother Sian Eggins, heard during an inquest last week how basic tests were not carried out by Doctor Philip Smith and nurses at the Seashore Centre - the hospital’s unit for children - after the youngster was taken there in January 2010 with a meningitis-type rash.

Lucas died from septicaemia and pneumonia the morning after he was discharged from the centre.

On October 12 Avon coroner Maria Voisin reached a verdict that Lucas died of natural causes contributed to by neglect and said there was a ‘gross failure’ in relation to the medical care the Weston toddler was given.

This week his mother Sian, of Rowan Place in Locking Castle, has spoken to the Mercury of the feeling of relief that the coroner confirmed what she and her family has known for nearly two years, but also the pain of knowing that, had something basic been done, her son may still be alive.

The 23-year-old said: “Nothing registered when we were first told that Lucas had gone, but my dad told staff at the hospital that they would be hearing from us.

“We’ve known from the word go that something stank.

“I don’t know how to feel really. Although I’m happy with the verdict, it was like a punch in the face.

“Being told that something as simple as antibiotics could have saved Lucas is just gut wrenching.

“We have been fobbed off by the hospital for 22 months and I just want to make sure that this can’t happen to someone else.”

Sian told the Mercury she will be pursuing a civil claim against Weston Area Health Trust through clinical negligence lawyer Sally-Anne Bryars, of Exeter legal firm Michelmores.

The inquest heard last week how Lucas had been urgently referred to the children’s ward by Weston GP Cheryl Cottrell on January 20, 2010, but was discharged later that day when meningitis tests proved negative.

The family spent five hours at the Grange Road hospital in Uphill and tests revealed Lucas had abnormal respiratory and heart rate readings but, despite high temperature recordings, he was sent home at about 5.30pm.

The next day, at about 8.40am, his father John found Lucas lifeless on his bedroom floor.

Despite family attempts to resuscitate him at their Locking Castle home, and paramedics trying to save his life on the way to Weston General, Lucas could not be revived.

The court also heard evidence from nurses Rhya Toney and Alicia James who were partly responsible for Lucas’ care at the hospital.

Ms Toney gave evidence saying that although the youngster’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate were ‘out of range’ that was ‘not unusual’ for a child who was distressed at procedures being carried out.

Lucas’ parents say they were not given any advice on monitoring his temperature once home, despite the fact it was above normal before they left the hospital.

Lucas tested positively for an infection in his blood while at the hospital, but tests for meningitis were negative.

Ms Eggins added: “The hospital says the Seashore Centre now records children’s vital signs every two hours, but this should have been standard procedure.”

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