Hospital in five-figure pay out after failing tragic six-year-old

Daniel was failed by staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Daniel was failed by staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Doctors at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been criticised for failing a seriously-ill six-year-old, who died after being transferred to a children’s hospital in Manchester.

The chief executives at both hospitals have apologised after a lengthy probe into Daniel Hunt’s death found more could have been done to try and save the youngster’s life.

But his devastated dad blasted: “They should have listened to me and his mum. Parents know their children best.”

Daniel was admitted to the children’s unit at the Vic, in Whinney Heys Road, after falling ill at home.

Later the youngster, who had Lowes Syndrome, a condition that affects kidney function and body fluid levels, began passing blood.

His parents, lorry driver Graham and Andrea, told staff their son’s condition was getting worse - but say their pleas for urgent help went unanswered for far too long.

Graham, from Cleveleys, said: “He needed fluids — he was dehydrating. His potassium levels were low and that can lead to kidney failure.

“We had to tell staff he was passing blood but they did not react. It was delay after delay.”

It took 11 hours for medics to decide to send Daniel, a pupil at Woodlands School in Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and a further nine for him to arrive there, his family said.

He died from natural causes just hours later, on New Year’s Day in 2011.

At the youngster’s inquest, Manchester coroner Graham Jackson said the care given to Daniel at both hospitals was ‘unsafe, untimely, ineffective, and inefficient’.

There was confusion over his transfer, and the ambulance was not given ‘blue light’ emergency status, the court was told.

And despite his declining condition, the decision was not made to ventilate or intubate him.

Mr Jackson said: “The care delivered at the time, when Daniel needed that care, appeared to be so insufficiently unreliable that I conclude it contributed to his death.”

Speaking after the Hunt family accepted a five-figure payout, Blackpool-based lawyer Diane Rostron, said: “There were failings in Daniel’s treatment. His death was totally avoidable.

“His parents’ fight was one for justice for Daniel, accountability, and to know that lessons have been learnt.”

Mr Hunt added: “We have accepted the trusts’ admission of liability but the settlement figure is not vast.

“[Daniel] was a real little character and his death has devastated us.

“His death has had a lasting effect of us. We do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays; all we do is place a memorial notice to mark the anniversary of his death.”

The chief executives at Blackpool and Manchester hospitals, Wendy Swift (interim) and Sir Michael Deegan, said in a joint letter to the family: “Our investigations have concluded additional steps could have been taken during the course of Daniel’s admission to both hospitals to further stabilise and improve his condition.

“The risk that Daniel might experience a life-threatening and sudden deterioration was not appreciated to the extent that we now believe it ought to have been.

“It is a matter of regret to both trusts that Daniel’s deterioration and death was not prevented. On behalf of both trusts we offer our sincere apologies.”

The trusts said they have addressed failings in a bid to prevent similar deaths in the future, and say doctors involved in Daniel’s treatment have looked ‘very closely’ at what happened to make sure lessons have been learnt.

The letter continued: “We realise we cannot change what has happened but hope you will accept our apology.”

In a joint statment both trusts said: “We would like to convey our deepest condolences and apology to Daniel Hunt’s family.

“Daniel died on 1st January 2011 following his admission to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

“He had been admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital on 31st December 2010 and was transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

“Detailed investigations into his treatment concluded that additional steps could have been taken during the course of his admission to both hospitals to further stabilise and improve his condition.

“The risk that he might experience a life threatening and sudden deterioration was not appreciated to the extent that it ought to have been.

“An apology was made to Daniel’s parents. The legal proceedings they instituted have been amicably resolved.

“We would like to repeat once again today our unreserved apology to Daniel’s family.”