Ambulance bosses vow to learn from 'substandard' care of Chester tot Isla

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

AMBULANCE chiefs have promised a Chester mum that lessons will be learnt after a paramedic misdiagnosed her baby’s illness – almost with tragic consequences.

Rachel McLoughlin, from Lloyd Place, Blacon, finally received a response from North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) after lodging a formal complaint at the end of August.

She claimed a paramedic mistook deadly sepsis and meningitis C for a harmless virus and said her baby, Isla McLoughlin-Clegg, was not sick enough to be taken to hospital.

But when the tot finally made it to the Countess of Chester’s A&E department on Sunday, August 13, a nurse took one look at her and immediately called for the resuscitation team.

Little Isla was given emergency antibiotics and put on a ventilator before spending four days with specialists at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. She is now fully recovered.

Maxine Power, director of quality, innovation and improvement at NWAS, contacted Miss McLoughlin to apologise and offer £500 as a “good will gesture”.

In a letter, seen by the Standard, she wrote: “Please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of the Trust and I would like to reassure you that a record of your concerns and the staff member involved will be held on record and may be referred to again if any incidents of a similar nature are received in the future.”

She also vowed to use the family's experience as a case study for future learning, and said the paramedic in question would have to undergo a “learning review”.

Convinced it could be the subject of a powerful lesson for training staff, Mrs Power brought the case to the attention of NWAS's board of directors.

She wrote to Miss McLoughlin in an email that “you could have heard a pin drop” when she told Isla’s story to the directors and showed them a photo of the tot on a ventilator.

She wrote: “I have to say the board were completely absorbed in your account of events and were extremely grateful for your courage in speaking up for Isla and also for agreeing to share your story.

“You could literally have heard a pin drop at one point. Then afterwards you couldn’t stop them asking questions.

“I also went through the challenges you have had with feeling that your concerns have been heard and that action has been taken.

“They were surprised at how long it has taken us to contact you face to face to take your full statement.

“The chairman of our board sends her personal apologies for the substandard care Isla received and is really supportive of us sharing your experience to communicate learning and minimise the chances of this ever happening again.”

Miss McLoughlin, 40, told the Standard she was glad the trust planned to learn from her experience.

“It should never have happened in the first place and hopefully it will never happen again now,” she said.

“I’d hate for any other parent or child to have to go through what happened to Isla and me.”

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

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