Inquest re-opens into death of four-year-old Doncaster heart patient

Mylee Weetman, from Doncaster
Mylee Weetman, from Doncaster

An inquest is continuing into the death of a four-year-old girl from Doncaster following treatment at a heart unit at the centre of a bitter dispute over the future of paediatric cardiac care in England.

Mylee Weetman died in March 2013 after treatment at the children’s cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

Mylee Weetman

Mylee Weetman

Operations at the LGI unit were temporarily suspended a week later after NHS England raised concerns about data on death rates at the centre.

The move provoked huge anger and debate, especially as some parents and clinicians from the unit linked it to the ongoing controversy about which children’s heart surgery units were to be closed as part of a nationwide rationalisation of the service.

A subsequent review found children’s heart surgery at the centre was safe, although the health trust apologised to 16 families who complained of poor care at the unit.

But a group of parents has continued to question the safety of the unit, which was originally scheduled to shut as part of the national reorganisation of paediatric care. This programme was halted following a legal challenge by another group of parents and other supporters of the unit.

Mylee Weetman, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Mylee Weetman, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire

After the temporary closure and review of the LGI unit, the Government announced it would look again at the national reorganisation and has yet to decide on how it will proceed.

Mylee was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect - Tetralogy of Fallot - shortly after her birth in January 2009.

This is a complex condition which includes a hole in the heart and a combination of other defects.

She died on March 21 2013, six days after an operation at the LGI during which she suffered two strokes, which led to brain damage, according to lawyers for Mylee’s mother, Siobhan Casey.

The solicitors said Ms Casey and her family are seeking answers about the treatment she received at the LGI.

They say the family feels that there were several instances where her care, before and after the operation, fell below the standard expected of competent child heart surgeons and cardiologists.

Laurence Vick, representing Mylee’s family at the inquest, said: “The Leeds report raised more questions than it has answered.

“Many of the parents feel that the Leeds report was neither open nor transparent, and in a lot of cases they feel that their concerns about their children were ignored.”

Mr Vick said: “The entire period surrounding the suspension of surgery at Leeds remains inscrutable. We hope, for the family’s sake, that the trust answers questions with openness and candour.

“It’s a sad reality that parents like Siobhan are being forced to turn to an inquest hearing, in open court, in their search of answers about their children’s care.

“The dramatic events that have unfolded at Leeds over the last two years should not detract from the fact that individual families are still coming to terms with the loss of their children.”

Mylee’s inquest is due to resume at Wakefield Coroner’s Court.