‘We have got justice for our daughter’

Anabelle Shepherd
Anabelle Shepherd

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The parents of a toddler who died of an infection on Christmas Day say an inquest into her death ‘has provided justice’ for Anabelle.

The 22-month-old, who had rare genetic Hurler syndrome, was admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham with lethargy four months after a bone marrow transplant.

Her condition worsened and she was transferred to Southampton General Hospital where two days later she died.

Now Anabelle’s parents are considering taking legal action against Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust which runs QA.

Recording a narrative verdict at yesterday’s inquest, coroner Keith Wiseman said Anabelle’s treatment at QA ‘did not give adequate recognition to her vulnerable clinical status’.

Dad Lee said he and wife Leanne feel Anabelle was ‘let down at the final hurdle’ by the failings of QA staff.

Mr and Mrs Shepherd, of Bath Road, Southsea, said an incorrect diagnosis of gastroenteritis, delayed blood tests and initial treatment with oral instead of intravenous antibiotics at QA meant Anabelle’s condition deteriorated.

The hospital has since changed procedures for dealing with similar patients.

Speaking after the inquest at Southampton’s Hulse Road police station, Mr Shepherd said: ‘They have put changes in place now, they have put protocols in place so that another child similar to Anabelle who does go to QA will get different treatment to the way she was treated.

‘The coroner’s judgment showed and provided justice for Anabelle.’

Anabelle was in the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital after undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

She was receiving drugs to suppress her immune system after the transplant, which left her at risk of infection.

Anabelle was admitted to QA on December 23 and prescribed oral antibiotics.

The toddler deteriorated and after discussions with Great Ormond Street she was given intravenous antibiotics.

She later had a seizure and was moved to Southampton General where she died.

A post-mortem examination could not conclude whether a bacterial or viral infection caused Anabelle’s death.

John White, a clinical negligence specialist at Blake Lapthorn who represented the family, said: ‘Anabelle fell through gaps in the service and the kind of protocols that were needed were missing.

‘Effectively she fell through the safety net.’

In a statement the hospitals trust extended ‘sincere and heartfelt condolences’ to Mr and Mrs Shepherd.