A devastated mum says she has been through three years of hell trying to prove hospital failings caused her daughter’s death.
Jane Robinson said she was glad her ordeal was now over but that she has been “demolished as a person” by her exhausting legal fight which had “consumed” her since the death of 14-year-old daughter Kaysie-Jane.
She said the record £2.5 million fine given to Dudley Group NHS Trust last week had not provided her with the closure she thought it would but that she hoped she could now start to grieve properly.
The heartbroken mother recalled how she frantically tried to tell doctors and nurses at Russells Hall Hospital, run by the trust, the seriousness of her teenage daughter’s condition as the disabled schoolgirl writhed in agony.
Incredibly, the family had previously received a payout over separate complications at Wordsley Hospital, which was run by the same trust, during her birth which left her severely disabled.
Kaysie-Jane, who had cerebral palsy, was rushed to hospital in March 2018 showing what her mum recognised as signs of sepsis.
However, this was missed as an “early warning score” was inaccurate – meaning a sepsis screening tool was not triggered. The teenager slipped into a coma and died six days later after being moved to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
The trust accepted the “poor care and treatment” of Kaysie-Jane had caused her death and bosses said they were “deeply sorry” following last week’s hearing.
But it took three long years for the devastated mum to receive recognition of what she already knew.
Miss Robinson, from Netherton, Dudley, said: “At the end of the day you know your own child. We’ve been in and out of hospital all her life and I know the symptoms of infection. I know how she reacts to infections, I knew something was drastically wrong.
“I was aware of sepsis at the time and I was aware of what the protocol is and they just followed none of it.”
The mum said she felt she was ignored as she desperately tried to get through to hospital staff.
“She was supposed to be cannulated, she needed fluids. She was on oxygen (at home) so she needed oxygen and they just did none of it. We were asking, ‘you need to do something, you need to give her some antibiotics, she needs fluids’ and they were just doing absolutely nothing.
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“We were saying ‘you need to do something’. Kaysie was in absolute agony and I said ‘you need to sedate her’ because she was having spasms that bad she bit through her bottom lip. She was writing and screaming in pain.
“We waited and waited. I kept trying to grab the nurse, saying ‘can we get a cannula in, can we get some fluids, can we do something?”
Despite her desperate attempts, Miss Robinson said she was “basically told to sit down and shut up and wait like everybody else”. She watched on helplessly as her daughter struggled for survival.
“She was absolutely crawling up the walls in agony. We know now that she was dying, basically,” she said.
The 46-year-old said she received no support from the trust in her quest to prove mistakes were made, which led her to question whether she could have done any more for Kaysie-Jane.
Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) took the NHS trust to court after claiming staff were not clear on how to follow a sepsis treatment ‘pathway’ in the months leading up to the deaths of Kaysie-Jane and mother-of-six Natalie Billingham, 33, from Tipton.
Unacceptably poor standards of care and treatment had been identified during a series of unannounced inspections.
And Miss Robinson said: “It’s pathetic. It’s all over ambulances and still is – ‘is it sepsis? Ask, is it sepsis?’.
“There had been loads on the television prior to Kaysie’s death about sepsis and warning signs because it was on the rise so if parents know about it why wouldn’t nurses know about it?
“For all the training they go through why wouldn’t they know about something they are actually advertising on ambulances and on TV?
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“If they’re advertising that they know there’s a problem they should know about it. And the fact that I even said ‘is it sepsis? I think it is’ and the ambulance crew flagged as well and they just didn’t act on it whatsoever.
“It’s just heart-wrenching for me because I don’t know what else you’re supposed to do.
“They’re the ones who are supposed to have been trained and brought up to date on stuff but if the management is not putting in place these extra courses and tuition for nurses to know more or to deal with it then whose fault is it? It’s obviously starting at the management process.
“I just feel we were treated really badly. There are no words for it, to be put in that position where you’re begging a doctor to do something.”
Miss Robinson, who is also mum to an eight-year-old son, said the crucial mistakes made during Kaysie-Jane’s short life had a hugely damaging impact.
She said: “It’s just demolished me, I suppose, as a person. It’s just absolutely devastated my whole life.
“Obviously we went through it the first time, she was a full-term baby and they did what they did. I came to terms with that and my family came to terms with that, pushed through everything.
“It’s horrible. You don’t feel like there’s anywhere you can go. Where do I go where I feel comfortable and reassured that I’m going to be treated and made better, or if something happens to my son?
“It’s hard to feel I’ve got no trust in the NHS – or that hospital.”
The family received “minimal” compensation for what happened to Kaysie-Jane.
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Miss Robinson said: “They said she’s got no dependence, no-one she leaves behind who has to be looked after, that’s why the payment is minimal.
“It’s one of them catch 22 things. You think ‘is that the price you put on my daughter’s life?’ but on the other hand no amount is going to bring her back and it’s not going to change the grief and all the horrendous time me and my family have gone through.”
The £2.5 million fine handed down at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court after the trust admitted safety failings posing a “significant risk of avoidable harm” was the largest financial penalty ever to be given to an NHS trust. But Miss Robinson said the severity of the punishment brought her little comfort.
“It had to reflect the massive failings to Kaysie, and Natalie as well,” she said. “I was probably expecting to feel more relieved. You think you might have some sort of closure or feel different but I actually don’t. I just feel very deflated.
“But I think that’s just a grieving parent’s way of dealing with the fact you’ve got the truth out and proved what you felt from the start was actually correct but it doesn’t change anything and it doesn’t bring them back.
“You got the outcome you fought for but that’s not really what your heart wants, your heart wants that person back. I’ve done my best and that’s as much as I can do for Kaysie.”
Dudey Group NHS Trust chief executive Diane Wake said “we unequivocally accept that harm was caused” to Kaysie-Jane and Ms Billingham.
She said the trust had “learned from the failings that led to Kaysie-Jane and Natalie’s tragic deaths and made fundamental changes in the way our care is provided” and that all healthcare staff have mandatory sepsis training.
Despite the massive emotional toll losing Kaysie-Jane and the subsequent battle for the truth has taken on her, Miss Robinson says she now wants to begin looking forward.
She said: “I’ll have more time to go through the grieving process without the added stress of letter writing, emails, solicitors and meetings so I’m glad it’s over. I feel a little bit more peaceful in my mind.
“I’ve done as much as I can do. But you never move on when you’ve lost your child. I think you put an act on, you live a double life.
“You live the life where you’re smiling and letting everyone know you’re okay, you’re getting through and you’re cracking on but the other part is you’ve still lost your child and grieving over that massive loss out of your life.
“But I’m glad it’s over. It was just consuming me and making me a sad person all the time. And I don’t want to be a sad mum for my son.”