A grieving couple are planning legal action against the NHS after THREE doctors in just NINE DAYS missed the treatable illness which killed their six week-old baby son.
James Payne was taken to a GP, an out-of-hours doctor then a locum medic at the family’s health centre when he appeared visibly unwell.
Worried mother Mandy Payne, 33, told the first doctor her son had a nasty cough – and was surprised when he prescribed the infant a NOSE SPRAY.
Less than a week later James’ mum rushed him to an out-of-hours doctor at Southend Hospital, complaining he was suffering from a wheezy breathing.
The GP suspected the tot was suffering from a viral infection but oddly said that was NORMAL for a six-week-old – and sent him HOME.
Then just two days later panicked Mandy took her wheezy son back to her GPs surgery where she saw a locum doctor.
Incredibly she claims the medic didn’t even check James’ chest – even though Mandy says she clearly complained the baby’s breathing had worsened.
Just hours later Mandy found her son lying lifeless in his Moses basket with blood coming from his nose and his face turned BLUE.
She desperately tried to resuscitate him on the living room floor in front of her two-year-old daughter – but couldn’t save him.
An inquest into James’ death heard the cause of his death was a build up of fluid in his lungs and inflammation of his throat caused by a viral infection.
Recording a narrative verdict at Southend Magistrate’s Court, acting Coroner for Southend and South East Essex Yvonne Blake noted “no organisation identified” the illness.
During the hearing all three doctors claimed they were not told about the infant’s breathing problems – with one GP admitting hospital treatment would have saved his life.
But the family refute this and claim they clearly reported their son’s wheezy breathing – aware it is a well known symptom of serious illness in babies.
Mandy and her husband, James’ father, Andrew, 38, a surveyor, yesterday said they have appointed lawyers to investigate legal action against the health trusts they believe are at “fault”.
Mandy said: “I feel James was robbed from me, from my family, it is someone’s fault and someone has to be held accountable for that.
“It is an unbearable loss which only someone who has lost a baby can ever understand.
“It is an unimaginable pain I feel daily and I want answers as to why this was ever allowed to happen.”
Andrew added: “As a father I look to protect my family and I feel like I failed as a dad.
“I loved him so much and we lost him far, far too soon
“Everyday I wake up and the first two, three seconds then it hits you all over again and a piece of your heart simply breaks again. And it continues to break all day.
“I drive past the park and I see father’s and their son’s having a kick about and I know I will never be able to do that with my son.
“I’ve had that taken away from me and I am incredibly angry.
“I want someone to be held accountable for the fact that he died when we were told he was fine.
“No parent should have to go through what we have been through it is worse than any nightmare, it is an indescribable pain.”
An inquest last week heard how worried Mandy, of Eastwood, Essex, took James to the Kent Elm Surgery, part of the Eastwood Group Practise, under the Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), on November 12, when he had a bad cough.
But after examining James’s throat and ears resident GP Dr Maciej Bobnis concluded that the baby as not suffering from anything out of the ordinary.
He prescribed nasal drops and paracetamol to lower his temperature – but less then a week later Mandy rushed him to an out of hours doctor.
She told an NHS call handler her son had developed a wheezy cough and was referred to GP Dr Hewa Dharmarathna, at Southend University Hospital.
Dr Dharmarathna told James’ inquest he found no signs of dehydration and the baby looked ‘well’.
He said he was made aware of the wheezy cough from notes passed on by the call handler, but claimed Mrs Payne told him that James did not have the wheezy cough. She denies this.
Dr Dharmarathna told the inquest he suspected a possible viral infection but claimed that was normal in a child of this age and there was no need for a hospital appointment.
On the morning of James’s death Mandy made a final appointment for her son with Dr Balavinayak Mohankumar, a locum at Kent Elm Surgery.
When asked at the inquest whether he removed James’s clothes or exposed his chest for the examination Dr Mohankumar said he couldn’t remember.
He said normal procedure would be to expose the chest and concluded that James’ tongue had minimal signs of infection.
The GP denied that a worried Mandy had told him that James had a wheezy cough – a claim she heavily disputes.
He told the inquest that if that was the case he would have called for help immediately – and James may still have been alive.
Just hours later horrified Mandy found James’ lifeless body in his Moses basket at their home in Hadleigh, Essex, when the baby monitor alarm started sounding.
She desperately tried to revive him with mouth to mouth on the family living room floor but he was tragically already dead.
Mandy said someone had to be held accountable for her “unbearable loss.”
She said: “While I was doing the washing the alarm on the baby monitor went off to indicate that something was wrong with him but I looked at him and he was wriggling and seemed OK.
“Twenty minutes later the baby monitor went off again this time properly, I rushed over to his cot and he was already floppy and blue and there was blood coming from his nose.
“I screamed and cradled him while I called the ambulance but I knew then he was gone and it was too late.
“The paramedics told me to try and give him mouth to mouth so I put him on the floor and desperately tried to resuscitate my baby.
“I can remember the taste of his blood in my mouth and thinking I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
She added: “My daughter Chloe was also in the lounge at the time and she’s only two and didn’t understand what was going on.
“She was pulling at my arm and thought I was playing with James not fighting to save him.
“How could I even begin to explain what has happened to her?
“At the moment she doesn’t understand he has gone forever. She asks and we tell her he’s playing hide and seek with the angels – she just wants her baby brother back.
“I dread the day when she’s a little bit older and she starts to ask questions or starts to remember what exactly happened that evening.
“Everything about that afternoon haunts me, me and Andrew still have nightmares now thinking about what happened, I don’t think I will ever get over it.
“I miss him every millisecond of everyday, I there isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think of him and wish he was still with me.
“We are pursuing legal action against the medics involved in the lead up to James’s death but for legal reasons I can’t talk about that.”
During James’ inquest (14/5) Coroner Blake overruled the original cause of death, given as bronchitis and bronchiolitis.
Paediatric pathologist Dr Bamber said James died from an unidentified viral infection with severe inflammation of the windpipe.
The coroner also stated the three doctors’ written accounts of the examinations differed from the family’s account.
The coroner saying: “Baby James was seen on three different occasions by three GP’s over nine days.
“The written records do not match with Mrs Payne’s account. Baby James died from a viral infection which no organisation identified.”
Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (Southend CCG) superseded South East Essex Primary Care Trust last year.
A spokesman for NHS England, on behalf of the CCG, said: “We are obviously deeply saddened and concerned to hear of this case, and would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family for their loss. However, we cannot comment on individual cases.
“NHS England is committed to ensuring that patients in Southend have access to high-quality and safe GP services. Patients or their families who are not happy with the care or treatment they received have the right to complain, and will be given a full and prompt reply. This can be done by contacting NHS England’s customer care line for Essex on 01245 459 353.”
A spokeswoman for Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We offer our sincere condolences to the family and will continue to support them at this sad time.”