Broomfield Hospital criticised for staffing levels after girl’s death

The “sufficiency of the staffing arrangements” at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford has been flagged as a concern after a two-year-old died from sepsis following advice from the only available clinician – a junior doctor – that she could be sent home.

Selina Samarina died on April 9 at Broomfield, two days after being brought in by her parents with symptoms of fever, a rash and irritability.

She was made an urgent referral and the sepsis protocol/procedure was triggered.

The coroner in a prevention of future death report has said that should ordinarily lead to an examination by a senior doctor within an hour.

But in this case, a “very junior doctor was sent over”, in part because there was a huge demand on the ward services and the available doctors of seniority were otherwise engaged with other patients.

Diagnoses such as sepsis or pneumonia were not addressed before Selina, who had been born with Down syndrome, was sent home.

It was not until two and a half hours after she was made an urgent referral that a doctor of appropriate seniority was available to assess Selina.

On that particular day there would normally be 12 doctors across the Emergency Department and Paediatrics Department, but on that day, Good Friday, there were only seven.

She died on April 9 after being readmitted to hospital.

The investigation concluded at the end of the inquest on May 28 that she died of natural causes, from sepsis and pneumonia, with contributory factors of Down’s Syndrome and upper respiratory tract infection.

The coroner has said: “This increased workload and the demand for services (which was at a normal level) had played a part in the consultant not being available to review Selina’s condition within the timescale mandated by the sepsis protocol.”

He added: “I was told in evidence that the trust has now consolidated the staffing rotas for the Emergency Department and Paediatrics Department, so that it is now easier to see any deficit as one deficit across two departments.

“That does not however, address the situation of how and why a situation in which only 60 per cent of the doctors are available for these important services.

“I am concerned about the sufficiency of the staffing arrangements.”

Mid and South Essex NHS Hospital Trust said it would provide a full response to the coroner’s report within 56 days.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter

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