Nelson baby died hours after leaving Burnley General: inquest

The mother of a Nelson baby, who died less than 24 hours after being released from Burnley General Hospital, has questioned at his inquest whether her son was ready to be sent home.

Friday, 24th January 2014, 9:33 am
Burnley General Hospital. Area 1-7.

On the first day of the two-day hearing into the death of Fletcher Kennedy, at Burnley Town Hall, mother Gemma Smith told the inquest her newborn had been “inconsolable” and would not settle after initially feeding well.

Miss Smith told the inquest Fletcher appeared “so grey” two days after birth, she had put pictures onto a social networking site of her son taken when he was alive, but said friends had commented in shock thinking they had been taken after his death.

The inquest heard that Fletcher had been born at a healthy colour and at 7lb. 7oz. on February 14th last year but had a pad of skin on the back of his neck and a heart murmur.

After a referral to neo-natal specialist Dr Thangavel Chandrasekera, the skin was viewed as nothing concerning and the heart murmur of “no significance”.

Miss Smith told the hearing that, the following day, everything seemed fine, but by the evening Fletcher was “grizzly” and “very unsettled and wasn’t feeding at all”.

At two days old, Miss Smith told the inquest of her growing concern with Fletcher not feeding, sleeping or urinating and going pale, and had mentioned this to staff. She said his nappies were “bone dry”.

Fletcher was seen by paediatrician Dr Chi-Ning Mo on February 16th where the heart murmur was looked at.

The inquest heard babies can develop a heart murmur in the first few days of life as they make the natural adjustment from foetal to neo-natal life.

On the perceived pale and greyness of Fletcher on February 16th, Dr Mo told the hearing Fletcher’s oxygen saturation and blood pressure were “completely normal”.

She added: “There was nothing to alarm me to think there was a problem with circulation to the skin.”

The inquest also heard from three midwives on duty on the days Fletcher was in Burnley.

Two of them, Lola Wild and Heidi Needham, who had been working on shifts on February 15th and 16th, described Fletcher as being unsettled but that was not unusual and they had observed feeding.

Fletcher was discharged from Burnley General Hospital on the afternoon of February 16th.

Miss Smith said she heard the moment Fletcher stopped breathing, having decided to sleep downstairs with partner Sean Kennedy and her son, such was their concern for the baby.

An ambulance was called and Fletcher was rushed to Blackburn Royal Hospital in the early hours of February 17th after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Dr Betty Wamola, from the Royal Blackburn Hospital, told the inquest of repeated unsuccessful efforts by medical staff to resuscitate Fletcher.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor will conclude the inquest today after hearing from a pathologist.