For the sake of Calvin and Mia

editorial image

WHEN a distraught mother watched her 13-month-old son die needlessly at Milton Keynes Hospital, her only comfort was that other children’s lives would be saved through the lessons doctors were forced to learn.

The blistering criticism from the coroner at the inquest, coupled with a Care Quality Commission inspection and a list of improvements ordered for paediatric services, meant little Calvin Prentice-Aucock did not die in vain, his mum Hannah firmly believed.

Last week though her belief was shattered when she read the Citizen report on the inquest of Mia Elcock who died, also at the age of 13 months, just 13 weeks after Calvin’s inquest took place.

Hannah’s sister Amy said: “It sent a shudder down our spines.

“We worked so hard and we thought we had done enough to prevent the same mistakes happening again. Yet once again, and in uncannily similar circumstances, a baby has died when that death could have been prevented.”

To make matters worse little Mia’s demise in September 2011 came just eight weeks after a CQC inspection, ordered by the coroner at Calvin’s inquest, found the paediatric unit was failing to meet essential standards.

The commission’s report had criticised the lack of a high dependency unit for children and discovered not all staff treating paediatrics were trained to a high enough level.

It ordered staff training to be upped and a series of changes to be made. It was while these improvements were in progress that little Mia was admitted with shortness of breath and a racing heart. She was treated for pneumonia but died five and a half hours later because doctors failed to detect her problems were caused by a growth on her heart – which would have been treatable.

Last week Coroner Tom Osborne slammed the “clear failure” of staff during Mia’s treatment and ordered a thorough review of the hospital’s paediatric services.

To Calvin’s family, Mr Osborne’s words were tragically familiar.

“It was almost exactly what was said at Calvin’s inquest,” Amy said.

“At the time we took comfort from the fact that the lives of future children would be saved. We had no idea that another baby would die through similar failures just weeks later.”

Calvin had been a regular patient at the hospital due to a gastric condition that required immediate fluids to be given through a drip.

When he collapsed in November 2010 doctors failed to take his blood pressure and cannulate him for a drip, his inquest heard in June last year.

As a result he went into respiratory and cardiac arrest and died hours later.

Now his family have written to the CQC demanding to know how these mistakes took place so soon after its inspection. They have also arranged a meeting with the hospital’s chief executive Mark Millar and will be accompanied by both city MPs.

“We simply cannot let another preventable child death happen.

“For the sake of Calvin and now Mia we will fight as hard as we can to save other lives,” said Amy.

The hospital has since spent £750,000 on improved monitoring, high dependency beds and one-to-one nursing for very sick children.