A MOTHER who said her dying baby was ignored by doctors was so desperate for the hospital staff to listen that she bought a £100 gift voucher for a nurse, an inquest heard.
Paula Stevenson’s daughter, Hayley Fullerton, died of a heart attack at Birmingham Children’s Hospital after doctors ignored pleas to transfer her to intensive care. An investigation concluded that failings in care may have contributed to her death.
Hayley was born with a congenital heart defect in October 2008. Although her parents emigrated to Australia she remained under the care of doctors in Britain and had a successful operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in September 2009. However, problems arose during her recovery when her lung collapsed as doctors tried to insert a tube that was too wide.
“I genuinely thought it was an honest mistake but I asked that if the tube was to be inserted again that I could be there and that a more senior doctor would be there to see it,” Miss Stephenson, 38, told Birmingham Coroner’s Court.
As Hayley’s condition improved, the family were told that she would be moved to a high dependency unit but was actually moved to a different ward next door, despite her mother’s protests.
She told the inquest that every time she complained to staff about her daughter’s care it became worse. She told the inquest she had been so worried about the lack of care she bought the nurse on the ward a £100 gift voucher in an attempt to encourage her to look after her child.
Mrs Stevenson and her parents monitored Hayley for 24 hours a day during her stay in hospital and were horrified by an apparent lack of check-ups she received. Miss Stephenson’s father, Edward, said: “You didn’t need to be a doctor to see that Hayley was not fine, as they kept telling us, and her breathing was very bad.”
Miss Stephenson said that she was “out of my mind” with worry. “When I started saying out loud my daughter was being neglected they ignored her even more,” she said.
She sobbed as she told the inquest how her family had begged doctors to X-ray Hayley’s chest when they noticed she had difficulties breathing. It was days before her request was granted and it showed that her right lung had collapsed.
Miss Stevenson, 38, repeatedly asked doctors to transfer her daughter back to intensive care but Hayley was moved to an isolation ward, which she claimed was a move to silence her. Hayley died a few days after her first birthday in November 2009 after suffering a heart attack.
Miss Stephenson told the inquest about the day her daughter died. “Hayley’s stats dropped and she was really struggling to breathe. Her eyes were panic-stricken and started rolling back in her head.
“I had to run to the nurses’ station screaming for help. Doctors rushed in and started trying to resuscitate her. After 20 minutes I noticed everyone stopped looking at Hayley and started looking at me with pity in their eyes.
“One doctor came towards me and said, 'Sorry Mum, we’ve lost her.’
“All I could think was, 'I’m no longer a mother,’ because she was my only child and she was dead.”