Belfast Telegraph

Baby death mother's bedside vigil

A mother who accused a hospital of neglecting her baby after open-heart surgery has told how she apologised to the child for being unable to help her.

Hayley Fullerton died at Birmingham Children's Hospital on November 11, 2009, one month after her first birthday.

An inquest into her death at Birmingham Coroner's Court has been adjourned until September, when Aidan Cotter, Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, will hear more evidence after visiting the wards were Hayley was treated..

During the hearing Hayley's mother Paula Stevenson revealed she told her daughter she was "really sorry" on the day of her death and was afraid to leave her bedside.

Mrs Stevenson said: "I kept a really vigilant eye on her. I was stroking her head and I was just telling her I was really sorry that I couldn't get her help. It was that fight or flight syndrome, I was so aware. I was so alert. I was too scared to even go to the toilet, I did not sleep for 48 hours before Hayley died."

Following the adjournment, Mrs Stevenson said the family had "serious concerns" about the care given to her daughter by the hospital.

She said: "The death of Hayley has had a devastating effect on our entire family. After her heart operation, we had serious concerns about certain aspects of her care on ward 11 at Birmingham Children's Hospital."

Ms Stevenson, 40, has told the inquest she believes her daughter, who was born in Northern Ireland on October 6 2008 with a heart defect and a hole in the heart, could have lived if staff at Birmingham Children's Hospital had listened to her concerns.

The court heard that Hayley underwent palliative surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast weeks after she was born. She was then flown to Birmingham Children's Hospital for corrective heart surgery on October 14, 2009. However, almost a month later she died after her lungs collapsed and she went into cardiac arrest.

Ms Stevenson, who is from Northern Ireland but now lives on Australia's Gold Coast, said during the hearing that her child had been failed "abominably" by medical staff on ward 11, describing her experience as "brutal". She said staff at the hospital neglected Hayley, "dumped" her at the end of a ward and ignored the family's concerns about her breathing as she recovered from her surgery.

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