A STEP-MUM told today how Southampton General Hospital abandoned her vulnerable daughter in a room for five hours in the moments leading up to her death.

Merrisa Hutchings was giving evidence this morning to an inquest into the death of pregnant 22-year-old Kelly, who died of the same rare condition as her mum and aunt.

She said: "When Kelly was admitted to Southampton General before she was on intensive care she was put in a small room on her own and left alone. I think the only people who entered the room were nurses to put in a drip and doctors to do tests.

"We were ordered out in the early hours and only one nurse had entered the room between 3am and 8am when her brother ran out and said she was rapidly deteriorating."

Miss Hutchings, from Fareham, was not sent to see a specialist for deep cerebral venous thrombosis, which had claimed the lives of both her mum Shirley and aunt Sue Hickmott, due to a mix up in referrals.

On the first day of an inquest into her death yesterday, it was revealed that a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist had originally signed for an appointment with Kelly, noting her high-risk status.

But despite her family history, the court heard, a standard midwifery meeting was arranged instead.

Then, on at least six occasions during her pregnancy, notes about her family's medical past had "slipped through the net" during appointments.

Giving evidence on the first day of the inquest, Donna Ockenden, head of midwifery at Portsmouth Hospital's NHS Trust, said she was at a loss to explain how the mix-up had come about.

She said: "I think it is very disappointing. The whole benefit of hand-held records is that the whole history is available - even if she should go outside the area. There were countless opportunities for this to be rectified.

"An appointment did happen but it was a midwifery appointment. I cannot find an explanation."

Coroner Keith Wiseman questioned why the records of her family's medical history were not spotted during the numerous appointments she had before her condition deteriorated.

He said: "It seems incredible to me that this situation could have gone on through Kelly's pregnancy.

"It is like going through six or seven red lights and not seeing any of them.

"Nothing should ever be presumed. It looks like there may or may not have been a presumption somewhere that Kelly was getting an appropriate level of help.

"Everything is so tantalisingly close to being correct without ever getting there."

Questioning Kelly's GP, Peter Smith, he added: "I have, with the benefit of hindsight, this picture of a family history being such a red light issue that you would think it would be flashing up almost every time anybody saw her."

Kelly died in hospital before she was able to see her newborn daughter Nikita, who was delivered by Caesarean section in November 2005.

Nikita has severe disabilities, including cerebral palsy, brain damage and blindness.

Coroner Keith Wiseman said it was likely he would need the whole of tomorrow to prepare his verdict before making a ruling on Friday morning.