Coventry & Warwickshire

NHS accepts failings after Warwick girl's croup death

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Media captionSeven-year-old Evelyn Smith collapsed and died of croup in September 2013

Medical staff missed opportunities to save the life of a girl who died hours after they sent her home, NHS England has admitted.

Evelyn Smith was sent home from A&E, a medical centre and from a GP, within 36 hours of her death from croup, a viral and bacterial respiratory infection.

A coroner recorded a narrative verdict saying it was likely the death of Evelyn, from Warwick, was preventable.

NHS England said staff failed to spot the "seriousness of her condition".

Evelyn's family now hopes the NHS will learn lessons from the seven-year-old's death.

Dr John Omany, a medical director from NHS England, said professionals "had tried to provide her with the best care possible" but "opportunities were missed".

"Our priority now is to ensure that GPs across our area are aware of the dangers of croup," he said.

As he recorded his verdict on Friday Dr Richard Brittain, Warwickshire's assistant coroner, made a number of recommendations for improvements.

Coroner's recommendations

  • Commission reports into communications between A&E and GP surgeries
  • Provide more experience in paediatrics for junior doctors
  • Develop new computer software to record medical notes

Evelyn's parents, Trevor and Helen Smith, praised the ambulance crew "who clearly did everything they could" but criticised others for not accepting the findings of an initial independent report.

They said: "We feel bitterly disappointed in the trust.

"On Saturday, it'll be a year since she died. It's taken us an entire year to get to this point."

Having first visited A&E at Warwick Hospital, they later took Evelyn to the Priory Medical Centre and then to a GP surgery, all within 36 hours.

She collapsed and died at home a few hours after visiting the GP.

They said her medical notes from hospital, which should have contained vital information about treatment, were sent to the GP two days after her death.

A spokesperson for South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust said her condition was rare and her illness was "masked by common symptoms that were appropriately treated by doctors in A&E".

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