THE family of a little girl who died on Christmas Day has received a substantial pay out and apology after a hospitals trust admitted her death could have been avoided with appropriate care.
Lee and Leanne Shepherd agreed to accept £30,000 compensation from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust over the death of their 22-month-old daughter Anabelle, who died in 2012 after being taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital (QAH).
The couple's acceptance of the settlement was on condition that it came with a written apology and admission that Anabelle would not have died if she had been given the appropriate care at QAH, and with reassurances that changes have been made to hospital procedures to minimise the risk of similar failures affecting other families.
The family have now received this letter of apology.
Anabelle, who suffered from the genetic condition MPS Type 1 - Hurler's Syndrome, previously underwent a bone marrow transplant at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) but was admitted to hospital on December 23 after she became lethargic and not her usual self.
Her transplant meant she had to take specialist medication to suppress her immune system but she was given oral antibiotics at QAH - causing her to vomit almost immediately.
Anabelle was seen by a consultant paediatrician on Christmas Eve, who discussed her case with GOSH and it was decided to take various tests, which were not reported for many hours.
By the evening it was clear that Anabelle's kidneys were not working properly.
She was given intravenous antibiotics at midnight but at 3am on Christmas Day her condition worsened and she was rushed to the paediatric intensive care unit at Southampton General Hospital, where medics tried to save her.
Her condition deteriorated further and she died at 2.40pm from septic shock.
BL Claims Solicitors represented the Shepherd family at an inquest into Anabelle's death in September and October last year, at which coroner Keith Wiseman noted that medics at QAH “did not give adequate recognition to her vulnerable clinical status”.
In a statement, Anabelle's parents said: “Anabelle had gone through so much after being diagnosed with MPS type 1 - Hurler's Syndrome and after intensive treatment she had the chance of a near normal life. It sickens us every day to think she went through all that she did to have been robbed of her life due to not receiving adequate care, especially from her home city's hospital.
“Anabelle getting an infection was not a surprise to us.
“GOSH had warned us that this may happen and she may need to be admitted to our local hospital to receive IV antibiotics. However sadly when we got to QAH things didn't go as they should and the correct treatment was not given until it was far too late. Sadly she was let down by them - more should have been done.
“There isn't enough money in the world to compensate us for the loss of Anabelle - she was a unique, strong little girl who always had a smile on her face. We knew things could have been so different had the correct protocols been in place. QAH stated at the inquest that changes and procedures have been made and we truly hope so, as our purpose for doing this is to ensure this doesn't happen to another child or family.
“We had to pursue this for her and now that it has been admitted and changes have been made we can hopefully move on although Anabelle will forever be in our hearts. Every day we now wake up with a black cloud over our heads and we are just learning how to cope with life with this and without her.
“Even though Anabelle had Hurler's syndrome you wouldn't have known. She was a bright, happy, smiley little star and we are so very very proud to have been her parents.”