A CORONER is demanding to see evidence of improvement at Milton Keynes Hospital following the death of 13-month old Mia Elcock last year.
Mia was celebrating her dad Simon’s birthday at their home in Little Horwood on September 23 2011 when she was taken to A&E - which was closed due to flooding, resulting in the toddler being admitted to the paediatric unit suffering shortness of breath and a racing heart. Five hours later, she died.
Coroner Tom Osborne put her death down to acute heart failure, though it was discovered during a post mortem that she had an extremely rare growth on her heart which could have been operated on if detected earlier.
Hospital staff treating Mia believed her to have pneumonia and was given treatment for that instead.
Mr Osborne said: “This was clearly a case where management of Mia required someone in a senior position to be in leading the care for her.
“There was a clear failure by the staff to treat her properly. However, I cannot be satisfied that their failure contributed to her death.
“To Mia’s family, you have my condolences. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. If there is any tiny bit of consolation as a result of this inquest, it’s that the matter will be investigated further and that it will hopefully save the lives of others.”
He also called for a Rule 43 report, demanding answers from the hospital to show where it has improved in its paediatric care as a result of the ‘failures’ in Mia’s case.
Mia’s dad, Simon Elcock said: “Mia was such a beautiful red-headed little girl who brought indescribable happiness and joy into our lives and to the people who met her. The pain of her loss is unimaginable and will never leave us.
“Medicine is never black and white, but there were opportunities where perhaps intervention could have occurred sooner and didn’t. This is something that may have had an effect on Mia’s survival.
“The hospital has conducted a route cause analysis. We’ve tried to engage with them throughout the process as is recommended in NHS guidelines, but we have found that this has not happened. We are unfortunately left with little confidence in the manner in which they are going or deal with these issues.
“And potentially, it could happen again.”
Mum Kirsten added: “She was a normal healthy little girl. She even helped blow out the candles on Simon’s birthday cake just 12 hours before her death. That evening, we took her to A&E with shortness of breath and a racing heart.
“Tragically, just five and a half hours later, she was dead.
“The post mortem showed Mia had a bacterial growth on her otherwise healthy heart that, while very rare, would have been treatable.
“The inquest has highlighted two potential diagnoses for Mia’s symptoms. Unfortunately in retrospect, the hospital treated the wrong one. We must live with the results of this for the rest of our lives.
“Opportunities did exist using routine medical procedures to intervene earlier in Mia’s decline and these were not taken, and she has been denied the chance of a childhood and a life.
“This has sadly, once again, highlighted the fact that children have continued to die at this hospital. This ambivalence to improvement would not be tolerated in any other industry so we are very pleased to hear the Coroner’s findings.”
Martin Wetherill, medical director at Milton Keynes Hospital said that improvements had already been made in the 12 months since Mia’s death.
He said: “We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Mia Elcock.
“As heard at the inquest, Mia’s tragic death was exceptionally unusual and no one can know whether her life could have been saved.
“We fully accept the Coroner’s verdict. We remain committed to providing quality care to all patients. We will learn from Mia’s unfortunate death and continue to make improvements where necessary to our paediatric and anaesthetic services. Every case offers us the opportunity to learn and we continually strive to improve our services.
“Since Mia’s sad death, many improvements have been made to paediatric services. The board has invested £750,000 in children’s services which has contributed to four dedicated high dependency beds, 10 new nurses and a separate paediatric A&E department.”