Fareham family win five-figure sum compensation after death of son

Matthew Kenway
Matthew Kenway

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THE family of a four-year-old boy who died in a Hampshire hospital ward are to be paid a five-figure sum in compensation.

Matthew Kenway, of Fareham, Hampshire, died at Southampton General Hospital in December 2010 after going in for a routine kidney operation.

As reported in the News, at an inquest Coroner Keith Wiseman heard how Matthew had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, and there was a delay in summoning an emergency team to restart his heart, in the high-dependency unit.

Parents Anthony Kenway and Katie Oxley, took legal action against University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust – which runs Southampton General Hospital.

The trust has now reached a settlement in which it has agreed to pay an undisclosed five-figure sum to Matthew’s parents.

Ms Oxley said: ‘Nothing can bring Matthew back, but we were determined to highlight what went wrong in the hope that lessons could be learned and that no other family would have to suffer what we have been through.

‘Knowing that changes have now been made in the high-dependency unit gives us some comfort. We will always feel Matthew’s loss but we do now feel as if we can start to move on.’

Matthew suffered from a type of muscular dystrophy called congenital fibre-type disproportion, which meant that he had weak muscles and had to be supported by a ventilator to help him breathe. He also had to be fed through a tube.

Despite the problems it causes, 75 per cent of sufferers of the condition are expected to live a normal lifespan.

Matthew was admitted to Southampton in December 2010, because his breathing had deteriorated slightly and he had some pain caused by kidney stones.

On December 15, he underwent an operation to bypass the blockage by the insertion of a tube, known as a stent, up to his left kidney.

After the operation Matthew was looked after on the paediatric high dependency unit.

Shortly after 3am, the oxygen monitor probe appeared not to be recording his oxygen levels. The nurse initially thought the machine might be faulty, but it transpired that Matthew’s heart had stopped.

Eventually, a cardiac arrest call was put out and the arrest team then attempted, for 40 minutes until 4.20am, to resuscitate Matthew but they were unsuccessful and he died.

During the course of the two-day inquest, a series of key findings emerged suggesting there were serious shortcomings in the care Matthew received.

At post-mortem it emerged that the stent placed in the left kidney was not in the correct place.

Staff on the unit did not recognise that Matthew’s heart had stopped because he was on a ventilator that was maintaining his breathing.

In addition, a monitoring probe recording his oxygen levels was felt to be the issue despite no change in Matthew’s condition when it was changed.

The inquest heard that a cardiac monitor would have shown that his heart had stopped. The provision of heart monitors is now standard procedure in the unit after surgery.

The family’s solicitor Patricia Wakeford, of Blake Lapthorn, said: ‘Evidence heard at the inquest raised grave concerns about the quality of care that Matthew received and the processes that were in place at Southampton General Hospital at the time of Matthew’s death.

‘Despite their loss, Matthew’s family have been determined to remember their son as the lively, happy, much-loved child that he was.

‘They hope that important lessons are learned from the events that led to his death and that this will prevent other families suffering a similar tragedy in the future.’