1. ITV Report

Hospital apologises to parents after damning report on handling of baby's death

8 week-old Benjamin Condon was born at 29 weeks. Photo: Condon family

Bristol Children's Hospital has issued an 'unreserved' apology to the parents of a baby who died in its care, after a report found staff had been 'insensitive' and had 'failed to get a grip of the real issues' following the death of Benjamin Condon.

In one incident, senior staff held a recorded meeting with Benjamin's parents, and when Allyn and Jenny Condon left the room, the doctors admitted mistakes had been made in Benjamin's care, and then tried to delete that part of the recording:

Eight week-old Benjamin Condon died of a lung infection while in Bristol Children's Hospital.

Doctors there had originally diagnosed him with a virus - thought to be part of a common cold. But he continued to deteriorate.

Benjamin Condon shortly before he died. Credit: Condon family

On 17 April 2015, nurses told Benjamin's parents that they would start him on a course of antibiotics, but they were not administered. By the afternoon, he was diagnosed with sepsis and organ failure, and suffered a cardiac arrest. Antibiotics were finally given around 8pm, but he died slightly more than an hour later.

His parents were not told about the secondary infection until seven weeks after his death.

A two-day inquest into his death begins tomorrow morning (Tuesday 21 June) at Avon Coroner's Court, to determine exactly how he died.

The independent report was commissioned by the hospital trust itself to look at how staff responded to the Condons' concerns after Benjamin's death. It found the hospital had "failed to provide Ben's family with clear answers to a number of questions".

The trust was also criticised for "losing sight" of the fact that the Condons were a grieving family.

But it did not find evidence for the Condons' central accusation: that the trust had tried to cover up circumstances surrounding Ben's death - an accusation in part prompted by the attempt to delete the recording.

"We have not seen conclusive evidence to prove or disprove the charge of a conspiracy to cover up what happened to Ben. [...] If there had been no conspiracy, what the trust actually did, far from allaying suspicion, served to bolster the family’s belief that there had been one."

– Independent report by consultancy firm Verita

The trust has said it will learn lessons from this case, adding:

"Our systems and processes didn't work for the Condon family. We are saddened we missed too many opportunities to proactively engage with Ben's parents, to fully answer their questions and to really get a grip of their complaint. We are truly very sorry for adding to Ben's family's distress and apologise to them unreservedly."

– Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust