Parents vow to campaign further for heart checks

PLEDGE Matthew's parents Anthony Kenway and Kate Oxley. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13389-607)
PLEDGE Matthew's parents Anthony Kenway and Kate Oxley. Picture: Malcolm Wells (13389-607)

From broken bones to new beginnings

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THE family of a four-year-old boy who died in hospital said they will carry on their campaign to ensure no other child suffers a similar fate.

Matthew Kenway, of Titchfield, died at Southampton General Hospital (SGH) in December 2010, after going in for a kidney operation.

BRAVE Matthew Kenway

BRAVE Matthew Kenway

As reported, Matthew had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in the high dependency unit of the hospital.

Staff did not recognise Matthew’s heart had stopped because he was on a ventilator that was maintaining his breathing – this caused a delay in getting help to him.

An inquest last year heard that a cardiac monitor would have shown his heart had stopped.

The provision of heart monitors is now standard procedure in the unit after surgery.

Parents Anthony Kenway, 32, a mechanic, and Katie Oxley, took legal action against University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust – which runs SGH – and yesterday both parties reached a settlement of an undisclosed five-figure sum.

Ms Oxley, 29, a sales developer, said: ‘We didn’t do this for the money, and we do not know what we will do with it.

‘Our main issue was to make sure changes were made in the hospital. All the staff were great, but one big mistake was made, and that can’t happen again.

‘Our next step is to talk to the Nurse and Midwifery Council, so all nurses know how to check.’

Katie and Anthony now have a one-year-old son called Taylor, and are expecting another child.

Ms Oxley added: ‘We have a big picture of Matthew in our living room, and Taylor knows that’s his big brother.

‘He was a brave boy and an inspiration to us all. We thank the hospital for giving us some time with him.’

Matthew suffered from a type of muscular dystrophy called congenital fibre-type disproportion, which meant he had weak muscles and needed support to breathe.

He was admitted to Southampton when his breathing deteriorated and had pain caused by kidney stones.

After an operation, he was then taken to the paediatric high dependency unit, where he was put on a ventilator.

A nurse thought the machine might be faulty, but it transpired that Matthew’s heart had stopped.

Blake Lapthorn represented the family and helped them secure the settlement.

Solicitor Patricia Wakeford said: ‘Evidence heard at the inquest raised grave concerns about the quality of care Matthew received and the processes in place at SGH at the time.

‘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 lessons are learned from the events leading to his death and will prevent other families suffering a similar tragedy.’

NHS RESPONSE

THE trust behind Southampton General Hospital said it has learnt from the case.

Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘This was an extremely sad case and our thoughts continue to be with Matthew’s family following their loss.

‘We hope the information provided at his inquest last year helped to give his family a clearer picture of the unusual nature of his condition and the complexities it presented, and the positive actions taken by the trust as a result of the lessons learned.

‘Following Matthew’s case, the trust introduced electrocardiogram monitoring for all children in the unit post-surgery.’