Northern Ireland

Mother claims daughter died because she was neglected

A mother has told an inquest she believes her daughter would be alive if hospital staff had not neglected her.

Hayley Fullerton was born with a hole in her heart and initially had surgery in Belfast.

She later had more surgery at the Birmingham Children's Hospital in October 2009.

Her mother claims her health deteriorated when she was moved to another ward. The one-year-old later suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Paula Stevenson, who is originally from Northern Ireland but now lives in Australia, told Birmingham Coroner's Court that the corrective heart surgery carried out at the hospital in Birmingham had been a success and her daughter was transferred to the hospital's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Mrs Stevenson said after Hayley was discharged from intensive care, she was moved to ward 12 where she "thrived".

On 2 November, she expressed concerns with hospital staff after she found out her daughter was moving to ward 11 because she was worried staff on that ward would be unfamiliar with her medical history.

Staff reassured her that Hayley would be placed in a high dependency unit but Mrs Stevenson claims she was "dumped" at the end of a ward.

She said her daughter struggled with her breathing, slept a lot and began to look "puffy", raising concerns that she was retaining water, but she said that when she or her parents raised concerns to the hospital staff they were dismissed and assured that everything was "fine".


Mrs Stevenson said she spoke to hospital staff and told them she believed her daughter had been neglected.

"I could not believe that Hayley had just been left to deteriorate. I could not believe what was happening," she said.

"All along the family had expressed their concerns about Hayley's breathing and had even asked if there was a problem with her lungs, yet nothing was done.

"We had known all along that there was something wrong with Hayley's lungs. I do not understand how things were left to get so bad."

When asked why she did not submit a formal complaint at the time, Mrs Stevenson said: "I did not want to waste my time completing the documentation when Hayley needed me.

"Looking back, I wish I had made the formal complaint because maybe that would have changed the dreadful outcome for Hayley.

"I didn't want to go away and make an official complaint because then all the focus was on the complaint and not the baby."

On 11 November both of Hayley's lungs collapsed and she suffered a cardiac arrest.

Mrs Stevenson said there were around 15 people in the room working to save her daughter.

She said: "I truly believe if the medical team had listened to me and my parents Hayley would still be alive today. They turned their backs on her. She was overlooked, neglected and suffered while she was alive.

"I cannot begin to explain the impact that this has had on myself and my family.

The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday.