Coroner’s concerns over treatment as baby dies

Grace Houghton
Grace Houghton
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A CORONER has written to bosses at a South Yorkshire hospital raising concerns about delays in the treatment of a young baby who died aged just seven days old.

Tiny Grace Houghton died in Rotherham District General Hospital after contracting a virus that damaged her heart.

At an inquest into the death, Rotherham coroner Nicola Mundy said nothing could have been done to save the baby. But she was concerned over a delay in administering a lumbar puncture to find out what was making her ill.

Baby Grace was born healthy on September 30, 2009, but mum Natasha Cashmore, aged 23, of Brampton Brierlow, Rotherham, was ill with a raised temperature and abdominal pains.

Natasha was worried she would make her new baby sick, but although she repeatedly raised her concerns with medical staff they never made a note of her worries.

When she was six days old, Grace fell ill. She was admitted to the Special Care Baby unit and doctors ordered a lumbar puncture. But there was a 24-hour delay before the procedure was done and Grace died soon afterwards, in her mother’s arms.

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict, in which she accepted Grace died of natural causes. But she said she would write to the hospital about delays to treatment which could be vital in another case.

Natasha’s solicitor Ian Murray, a medical specialist at Irwin Mitchell, told The Star that investigations found Grace was suffering with Coxsackie virus, which was either transferred from her mother before she was born or shortly afterwards.

He said: “Grace’s tragic death left the family feeling devastated. They just hope Rotherham NHS Trust will now learn important lessons, in the hope preventable deaths can be avoided in future.”

Natasha, a trainee nurse on placement at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, has since married and had another baby. She also has two older children.

She said: “I am disappointed that despite my concerns being raised in a formal complaint, it has taken a coroner’s inquest to deal with that aspect of Grace’s care.”

A spokeswoman for the Rotherham NHS Trust said: “The trust takes patient safety very seriously and further improvement to procedures, such as clearer escalation policies and a more effective communication process, have been implemented to further ensure potential complications are picked up early.”