Belfast Telegraph

Doctor offers baby case apology

A doctor accused of treating the family of a seriously-ill baby with "utter contempt" has apologised for not requesting physiotherapy sooner in the days before she died.

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

Her family accused staff at the hospital of neglecting her and ignoring their concerns about her breathing as she recovered from corrective heart surgery.

Her mother, Paula Stevenson, who is from Northern Ireland but now lives on Australia's Gold Coast, told an inquest into Hayley's death that she felt her child had been failed "abominably" by medical staff on the hospital's ward 11, describing her experience as "brutal".

The 40-year-old told Aidan Cotter, Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, that she travelled with her parents from their home in Northern Ireland to Birmingham in October 2009, where they stayed in a hotel near the hospital and took turns to be at the baby's side.

The inquest heard that after being informed by hospital staff that Hayley's right lung had collapsed on November 9, her grandmother, Sylvia Stevenson, who has since died, asked Dr Oliver Stumper, a paediatric cardiologist, what treatment she could be given.

The family was told that physiotherapy would be arranged for the following day, the inquest at Birmingham Coroner's Court heard.

In a statement written before her death, which was read to the court, Mrs Stevenson said that Dr Stumper had "barked" his response to her questions, adding: "My daughter said I looked like a parent in a third world country begging for my child's life."

Giving evidence at the inquest, Dr Stumper said: "I think we provided therapy by and large at the right time. I express my frustration and apology that we failed, that I failed, to request physiotherapy on the evening of November 9. Having said that, she did improve after she received physiotherapy on November 10."

The doctor, who has worked at Birmingham Children's Hospital since 1993, said Hayley was "doing pretty fine" until she suffered an "acute sudden collapse" on the morning of November 11, when both lungs collapsed and she went into cardiac arrest.

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