Hospital admits failings contributed to Weston baby's death after parents' two-year fight for answers
PUBLISHED: 11:28 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 05 October 2017
A hospital chief executive has admitted a Weston-super-Mare baby did not receive antibiotics on time and has apologised to his parents more than two years after the two-month death.
Two-month-old Ben Condon died at Bristol Children’s Hospital in 2015 after he developed a cough and had trouble breathing.
His parents, Allyn and Jenny Condon, who live on Weston’s Hillside, were initially told he died from a cold.
Seven weeks later, they were told he also had sepsis, a serious infection. However, doctors later told an inquest into his death there was little evidence to show he was suffering from an infection, and said he died from a cold.
Robert Woolley, the chief executive for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, has today (Thursday) admitted the failure to give timely antibiotics to their son contributed to his death, after Mr Condon brought a clinical negligence claim against the trust.
Mr Woolley said: “I would like to publicly apologise to Mr and Mrs Condon.
“We failed to take the opportunity to give Ben timely antibiotics and this contributed to his death.
“I am also deeply sorry for the additional distress and hurt caused by the wait Mr and Mrs Condon have endured before receiving this explanation.
Mr and Mrs Condon have been campaigning to receive answers over how their son died, including an online petition and delivering leaflets outside the hospital, for the past two years.
Mr Condon told the Mercury in August: “I don’t think this is something we will ever give up. We have been told one thing at a meeting and another at the inquest.
“Neither of us has had the opportunity to grieve for Ben.”
Mr Condon brought a claim for clinical negligence against the hospital based on the failure to administer antibiotics.
The trust then launched a new review into Ben’s death, including obtaining additional clinical expert evidence and advice.
A trust spokesman said: “The trust believes it missed an opportunity to provide Ben with timely antibiotics and this failure contributed to his death.
“Much of the reason for the delay in clarifying the trust’s position is because medical experts have a range of different views on whether and when antibiotics should have been given to Ben.
“There has not been a clear-cut consistent medical opinion, as can happen with very complex cases.”
Mr Woolley also apologised for not supporting Mr and Mrs Condon appropriately after Ben’s death.
He said: “We made serious mistakes communicating with them and, as a result, we lost their trust.”
The trust says it has made improvements in clinical care and how it engages with bereaved families since Ben’s death, but admitted ‘it will offer little comfort to Ben’s parents’.
Dr Bryony Strachan, clinical chair for the division of women and children’s services, said: “Ben’s sad death continues to have a devastating impact on his family and we are truly sorry about this.
“We also know the way we responded to Ben’s parents at times added to their distress and we are very sorry for that.
“We hope they can take some comfort we have learnt lessons from this and that we have already made changes and improvements in light of their and Ben’s experience in our care.”