'I'm frankly ashamed this has happened in my hospital': Former Sheffield physician speaks out after Laura Booth inquest

A former physician who exposed the ‘unlawful’ failings which contributed to a young woman’s death in Sheffield says he is ‘ashamed’ of the way hospital bosses acted.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:52 am
Laura Booth with her parents Patricia and Ken (pic: PA Media/Family handout)

Laura Booth, a 21-year-old who had a number of different life-limiting complications, including learning disabilities, died in 2016 after being admitted to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital for a routine eye operation.

Her parents, Patricia and Ken Booth, said they had watched her ‘starve to death’ before their eyes as she went 28 days without food, yet medics failed to listen to them or to Laura.

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A coroner concluded this week that neglect had contributed to her death and the decision by doctors not to adequately manage Laura’s nutrition was a ‘gross failure of her care’, and that the hospital had acted ‘unlawfully’ in the decisions it made about Ms Booth’s feeding.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals insisted Laura was not starved during her stay but admitted that the decisions about feeding had contributed to the timing of her death. It said it was ‘truly sorry’ for what happened and had already ‘overhauled’ its practices to improve care for others.

In 2018, Professor Sam Ahmedzai, a former Sheffield physician, had written expressing concerns that Laura was ‘allowed to die with starvation’ – a letter which helped finally secure the inquest Laura’s parents had been seeking in their quest for answers.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, he said: “I could see that something had gone terribly wrong, how there was this catalogue of mistakes and miscommunications but mostly culminating in this absolutely indefensible lack of nutrition.”

Asked what he thought of the hospitals trust trying to block his evidence being given, he replied: “I want to say I’m disappointed but I’m frankly ashamed that this has happened in my hospital. I can only imagine how Patricia and Ken are feeling.”

Speaking to them, he said: “My heart went out to you this morning. Four and a half years, and it’s all come to light.”

He added: “I just want to say it’s been such an honour to share that journey you had with Laura and I want to make sure that your story is spread far and wide.”

Laura’s parents thanked him and said: “We will never get over losing Laura. Never. She was our world.”