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Luke Jenkins' mother demands Bristol Children's Hospital apology over death

Published 30/10/2016

Luke Jenkins died in 2012 aged seven after also undergoing heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect
Luke Jenkins died in 2012 aged seven after also undergoing heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect

The grieving mother of a young boy who died at a scandal-hit children's ward has begged hospital bosses to publicly apologise for their failings.

Faye Valentine, 30, is demanding University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust acknowledges that her son Luke Jenkins died as as result of failings at Bristol Children's Hospital.

Luke died in 2012 aged seven after also undergoing heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.

Ms Valentine spoke out after a damning Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman report branded Luke's post-operative care and treatment at the hospital as a "service failure".

It listed 10 failures by doctors and nurses after Luke underwent a serious heart operation to correct a congenital heart defect.

But in the far-reaching inquiry, nine experts also found the Trust had committed maladministration for failing to be open with Luke's parents.

And it ordered the Trust to write a letter of apology to Ms Valentine and her partner Stephen Jenkins, 33, and acknowledge "openly and honestly" the failings identified in this report. The Trust was also ordered to pay the family £2,000 for their "added distress".

"It would have been better if the Trust had recognised all the failings in Luke's care immediately," the report said.

"We cannot link any of the failings in care we have identified to Luke's death.

"We have no doubt that the knowledge that Luke did not receive best possible care will be an ongoing source of distress and upset to Mr Jenkins and Ms Valentine and we recognise that they will never know whether better care would have led to a different outcome for Luke."

The conclusions from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman went further than the recently published Bristol Review carried out by NHS England into cardiac services at Bristol's Children's Hospital.

The findings were also similar to those of Sean Turner, a four-year-old boy from Warminster, Wiltshire who died at the hospital a month before Luke following complex heart surgery.

Ms Valentine criticised the Bristol Review saying it should have "mirrored" the conclusions of the Ombudsman.

"We will keep going until they accept what they did and admit it publicly," she said.

"Privately they have because we have got them on tape admitting Luke should still be alive and there was failings in his care but they won't publicly admit it.

"It just seems they are out to keep us dangling. All the time we are finding out new things. There is conflicts between information all the time. Why can't they just tell us the truth?

"We are over four years on now and we shouldn't still be fighting for them to be honest with us. That's all we have been fighting for."

Ms Valentine and Mr Jenkins, from the St Mellons area of Cardiff, are now taking legal action against the Trust and have lodged documents with the High Court.

"They made an offer to us to settle the case. It has never, ever been about the money and we've always said that what we wanted was the truth about what happened," she said.

"It was totally insulting what they offered - an absolute joke. We declined and said we would fight them all the way to get to the truth and answers that Luke deserved.

"They sent an apology but it was exactly the same as the Turners - they just changed the name. It wasn't a personal letter. They couldn't be bothered to write a personal letter to both families.

"I gave them the opportunity before we submitted the legal papers to do the right thing but they didn't. They left us with no choice.

"It feels like we are fighting a losing battle with them. Until they are prepared to be open and honest, do the right thing. There is nothing anyone can do to bring Luke back, at least for once they can do something decent and put things right.

"There is no way we will back down until they admit they did and they publicly apologise for the failings and admit they caused Luke's death, publicly."

Dr Sean O'Kelly, medical director of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We extend our condolences to Luke's family for his sad death.

"We are deeply sorry for the failings in care and treatment that Luke received and that we compounded his family's grief by giving incorrect and incomplete information in response to their subsequent complaint. We have written directly to Luke's parents to apologise for this.

"We want every child to receive the best possible care and are committed to implementing the recommendations of the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman's report, the findings of the Independent Review and the Care Quality Commission review.

"We have made significant improvements since 2012, and the Independent Review and the Care Quality Commission report acknowledged these. We will ensure that Luke's family is fully informed about the improvements we continue to make.

"Luke's family has brought a legal claim about specific aspects of his care. The legal case is ongoing and therefore we cannot comment further."

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