Nurse on trial for manslaughter over 10-year-old Phoebe’s death

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 July 2016

Phoebe Willis with dad Julian.

Phoebe Willis with dad Julian.


A nurse was ‘grossly negligent’ when treating a 10-year-old with a rare genetic disorder, leading to the child’s death, a court has heard.

10-year-old Phoebe Willis died in 2012.10-year-old Phoebe Willis died in 2012.

Phoebe Willis from Locking – described by her parents as an active and ‘remarkable child’ during a Mercury interview in 2012 – was born with a rare illness called cystinosis, which meant she had to be fed through a tube.

The tube was connected by a so-called mini-balloon button on her abdomen, which had to be replaced every three or four months.

On one occasion in August 2012, Phoebe’s mum Heather – who had been trained to replace the button – was unable to do so, and took her daughter to Weston General Hospital.

However, there was no-one on site with the expertise to re-site the button. That meant Nurse Carrie-Anne Nash, a specialist in feeding tubes at a company called Nutricia, was called in to treat Phoebe. However, the tube was not inserted correctly, and Phoebe died of an infection two days later.

Prosecuting at Bristol Crown Court, Sarah Whitehouse said: “Carrie-Anne Nash caused Phoebe’s death by grossly negligent conduct.”

The court heard how Nash, aged 34 and of Tansy Lane in Portishead, had tried repeatedly to replace the button properly, but prosecutors say she did not make sure the tube was in the right place.

They allege Nash ignored ‘red flag’ indicators, which warned her the tube was not in Phoebe’s stomach.

Mrs Whitehouse said: “This is how Miss Nash came to be charged with manslaughter; not because she wanted to kill Phoebe, or wanted Phoebe to die or to be harmed in any way, but because she acted contrary to national guidance, contrary to her employer’s safety protocols and contrary to her training.

“Critically, she failed to recognise or act on multiple ‘red flag’ indicators that suggested there was a serious problem with the tube placement.

“She provided a level of care to Phoebe that was so very far below the standard to be expected of a nurse with her specialist training that it can properly be described as criminal.”

Nash denies being criminally negligent, and the case continues.

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