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  1. ITV Report

University Hospitals Bristol accepts failings in care of Ben Condon

Ben died in April 2015 having suffered a second cardiac arrest. Photo: Family

The CEO of Bristol's NHS Trust has written to the parents of Ben Condon to accept failure to give timely antibiotics contributed to his death.

Ben Condon from Weston-super-Mare died at Bristol Children's Hospital in 2015.

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust has apologised.

"I would like to publicly apologise to Mr and Mrs Condon. We failed to take the opportunity to give Ben timely antibiotics and this contributed to his death.

"I am also deeply sorry for the additional distress and hurt caused by the wait Mr and Mrs Condon have endured before receiving this explanation.”

Doctors failed to give Ben antibiotics which may have saved his life. Credit: Family
  • 17 February 2015 Ben Condon was born at 29 weeks at Southmead Hospital in Bristol
  • He spent seven weeks in the paediatric intensive care unit
  • 7 April 2015 Ben came home with his parents - Olympic sprinter Allyn Condon and his wife Jenny
  • Two days later Ben started coughing and sneezing and was taken to Weston General Hospital
  • 10 April 2015 Ben was transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children after becoming lifeless and struggling to breathe
  • 3pm 17 April 2015 Ben was prescribed antibiotics
  • 8pm 17 April 2015 Antibiotics were administered - by then Ben had suffered a cardiac arrest
  • 9.07pm 17 April 2015 Ben died having suffered a second cardiac arrest after developing acute respiratory distress syndrome
Ben was transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children on 10 April 2015. Credit: ITV West Country

Earlier this year, Mr Condon brought a claim for clinical negligence against the Trust on his son’s behalf, based on the failure to give Ben antibiotics on 16 April 2015.

The Trust says it "has extensively reviewed again the circumstances of Ben’s death" and has obtained additional expert evidence and advice.

"Following this thorough reappraisal of the circumstances of Ben’s death, the Trust believes that it missed an opportunity to provide Ben with timely antibiotics and that this failure contributed to his death."

Allyn Condon brought a claim for clinical negligence against the Trust. Credit: ITV West Country

The Trust says the delay in clarifying its position is because medical experts "have a range of different views on whether and when antibiotics should have been given to Ben".

The issue of whether and when to administer antibiotics continues to be part of a wider medical debate and ultimately this comes down to individual clinical judgement.

There will be those clinicians who decide to administer antibiotics and those in a similar situation who will not. This has added to the challenge of determining what should have happened in Ben’s treatment and care, compared to what did happen.

– University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
The Trust says medical experts Credit: Family

The Trust says it has made changes to the way it operates but recognises mistakes have been made.

Ben’s sad death continues to have a devastating impact on his family and we are truly sorry about this. We accept that we missed the opportunity to give Ben timely antibiotics and that contributed to his death.

We also know that the way we responded to Ben’s parents at times added to their distress and we are very sorry for that.

We hope that they can take some comfort that we have learnt lessons from this and that we have already made changes and improvements in light of their and Ben’s experience in our care.

– Dr Bryony Strachan, Clinical Chair for the Division of Women and Children’s Services