Inquest hears that delay may have contributed to child’s death

From left: PO Adam Hilton,  Father Christmas, Captain Peter Towell, CPO Chris 'Paddy' Gilkes and Malcolm Dent

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A TWENTY-MINUTE delay on a high-dependency unit may have led a four-year-old boy to significantly deteriorate, according to the head of a clinical negligence team who is representing his family.

Nurses and doctors are being questioned over whether they could have done anything differently to save the life of Matthew Kenway.

The two-day inquest is investigating how Matthew, from Fareham, died at Southampton General Hospital.

John White, the head of Blake Lapthorn solicitors’ clinical negligence team, said: ‘There are serious questions to be answered about how it was that Matthew’s heart stopped beating when he was on the high dependency unit and that it was not detected and acted upon straight away. ’

Matthew, a pupil at St Francis School, was nearly five years old when he died on December 16, 2010, having suffered from a cardiac arrest.

Matthew had a lifelong medical condition which meant his muscles were weaker than usual and that he needed constant care.

He had been admitted to the high dependency unit following an operation on his kidney.

In the early hours of the morning, the oxygen monitor probe appeared not to be recording anything and the nurse thought the machine may be faulty.

In fact, Matthew’s heart had stopped and he had gone into cardiac arrest.

This assumption, together with the other duty nurse being on her break and an unqualified nurse running to fetch a doctor instead of following standard protocol, potentially led to a delay in putting out a cardiac arrest call.

This potentially led to a delay in Matthew receiving treatment.

The events have been subject to a previous NHS investigation which found a crucial period of 20 minutes had been lost.

During the first day, the court heard from staff nurse Lyndsey Menendez, who was on duty the night that Matthew died.

She said that the times that she gave to the NHS investigation could not be relied on as they were an approximation, which she had given under pressure before she went on to maternity leave.

She also said that it was very rare for a child to go into cardiac arrest without first experiencing respiratory problems which is why she thought it was a machine failure.

Dr Gary Cannett, a paediatric respiratory consultant, said: ‘This is an extraordinary set of circumstances. I think there was an understandable delay.’

The inquest also heard that a stent which was used to fit a catheter to Matthew after the operation was slightly out of place. Dr Bhumita Vadgama said its position could have made the situation worse.

Matthew’s parents, Anthony Kenway and Katie Oxley said: ‘Matthew’s death has devastated us and changed us forever.

‘We miss him so much. We just cannot understand how things can have gone so wrong, so quickly that night.’

The inquest will continue today and a verdict is expected next week.