Disabled woman who died after routine operation in Sheffield hospital was ‘ignored by doctors’, parents tell inquest

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The parents of a ‘lovely, kind, caring’ young disabled woman who died after she went into a Sheffield hospital for a routine eye operation have told a coroner that doctors did not involve them in decision making and ignored their daughter.

Laura Booth, aged 21, stopped eating after she was admitted to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, her mother, Patricia, told an inquest hearing in the city yesterday.

Mrs Booth, from Sheffield said her daughter was ignored by clinicians after she went into the hospital in October 2016 despite her being able to communicate to some extent, including the use of Makaton signing.

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She said this was in contrast to her treatment at the Children’s Hospital in the city.

Laura BoothLaura Booth
Laura Booth

Sitting next to her husband, Ken, on a remote link to the hearing, Mrs Booth told the inquest: “They never discussed anything with Laura.

“They just ignored her.

“She couldn’t speak but she could understand everything.”

Mrs Booth explained how Laura could make herself understood to her family and would hold her hands out to the doctors but did not get a response.

“They never gave her a chance,” she said.

“They never spoke to her.

“It’s really heartbreaking. Laura was trying to communicate with them but they just wouldn’t listen.”

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Mrs Booth said: “It just upset Laura that the doctors ignored her.”

She told the inquest how she and her husband became increasingly concerned that their daughter was not eating at the Hallamshire.

“She never had anything to eat all the time she was in the hospital,” she said.

“All Laura lived on was her rice milk and blackcurrant juice.

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“We kept telling the doctors ‘this isn’t right, she can’t survive on no food’.”

Mrs Booth described how, after she was born, Laura was diagnosed with partial trisomy 13 and had a number of different life-limiting complications, including learning disabilities.

She said that she and her husband had given up on having children after failed IVF attempts and Laura was their ‘little miracle’.

Mrs Booth said: “She was a really, really lovely, kind, caring girl.

“If me or her dad was poorly, she would care for us.

“When she died, part of us died too.”

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The inquest at Sheffield Town Hall is due to last up to three weeks.

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