Laurence Vick
Posted on 11 Nov 2013

Luke Jenkins Inquest Press Release

Inquest into death of young Cardiff boy at controversial heart hospital

An inquest opens on Monday (11 November) into the death of a seven-year old Cardiff boy who died after treatment at a controversial Bristol children's heart hospital.

Luke Jenkins was born in November 2004 with a congenital heart defect. He underwent a series of operations during his short life, including a procedure at the Bristol Royal Children's Hospital in October 2009.

The procedure was to insert a catheter before planned major surgery. But shortly afterwards Luke began experiencing breathing difficulties and became unable to move his limbs. An MRI scan showed damage to his spinal cord and his parents, Stephen and Faye, were told he had become quadriplegic.

Luke could not walk and needed a wheelchair and one-to-one care. As a result his parents were told there would have to be a delay before undertaking any further surgery on his heart. Over the next two years Luke battled through his difficulties from being paralysed and managed to walk again with the use of a frame.

He was admitted to the hospital again for surgery in March 2012. Afterwards his parents were concerned that he was not receiving enough care, and asked that he be transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit. The request was denied. Luke's parents were told that Luke was in a high-dependency bed, and his move out of ward 32 was denied. His parents were told there was no cause for concern.

The following day Luke began complaining of severe chest pains. While an echocardiogram machine was being collected he suffered a cardiac arrest.

A large volume of blood was found within the chest cavity. There were attempts to resuscitate him and he was transferred to intensive care amid growing symptoms of multi-organ failure.

Three days later, with the agreement of his parents, intensive care support was withdrawn and on 9 April Luke was allowed to die.

The Child Heart Unit faced criticism from the regulator

Ward 32 of the hospital, where Luke died, was subsequently the subject of an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission, the government's patient safety watchdog.

The CQC issued a formal warning to the hospital, declaring that it had failed to meet three essential standards of patient safety, on staffing levels, staff training and support, and overall care and welfare of patients.

An issue of controversy remains the lack, at that time, of a high dependency unit for the ward.

The hospital carried out two in-depth investigations into how Luke had died, each admitting to serious errors and to earlier adverse incidents.

However, on the eve of a recent pre-inquest hearing the trust's representatives brought with them a new report drawn up by the hospital's own management, which refuted the findings of its own previous Root Cause Analysis and denied negligence by the hospital.

Though it was only presented in October and the first that the other parties had heard of it was when it was read out in court, the document was dated six months earlier.

Further criticism of the hospital's procedures

The family's lawyer is medical negligence specialist Laurence Vick, who also represented the families at the earlier public inquiry into the Bristol children's heart scandal.

‘This has been tremendously trying for Luke's parents,' says Laurence Vick. ‘They have waited patiently for this inquest in the hope that it will at last get to the bottom of what happened to their son.

‘They had been led to believe that the hospital's own investigations would be carried out in an open and transparent manner, only to find that much of what they had been led to believe by the hospital, in their own reports, is now being denied.'

The inquest is to be held at Flax Bourton and is scheduled to last for eleven days.

For further information, call Peter Thurlow Public Relations, 01728 685673.

Notes to editors