East Cheshire NHS Trust sends ‘sincere condolences’ for failings in Jack Hilton’s care.
The parents of a young man with learning difficulties who died after doctors failed to diagnose him with sepsis have finally received a ‘proper letter of apology’ from the East Cheshire NHS Trust, two years after it admitted to failings in his care.
In 2018, Jack Hilton, 27 - who had autism and epilepsy and who lived at the David Lewis Centre, a supported living facility in Macclesfield - tragically died of complications following surgery to remove his appendix at Macclesfield District Hospital in August, 2018.
Discharged to stay with his parents with oral antibiotics following the operation, Jack returned to the Emergency Department on two subsequent occasions after his symptoms worsened and he started to suffer from difficulty breathing, coughing and vomiting.
As his condition deteriorated, he was finally admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where he passed away on September 11th, 2018.
The family went on to take legal action against the Trust, instructing medical law experts at Simpson Millar to represent them in their battle for answers.
In April 2020 the Trust admitted that when the diagnosis was changed to aspiration pneumonia, the doctors failed to treat it with the correct antibiotics which was not consistent with the relevant Trust antimicrobial prescribing guideline for the condition.
However, in the same letter of admission, it also denied that his death could have been avoided. His parents, Margaret and Graham, said that the letter had come across as ‘heartless’, and that the emotional impact of that had been significant.
In 2021 the Trust settled the claim against them, with Jack’s parents donating the money to the David Lewis Centre.
Despite this, the family say they have been forced to wait another year to receive a proper apology, and reassurance that lessons had been learnt.
That came last month, when a letter received by Mr and Mrs Hilton from the Trust’s Chief Executive offered his ‘sincere condolences’, saying that the treatment Jack had received ‘was not in-keeping with the trust’s antimicrobial prescribing guideline’.
It went on to say that the trust is committed to providing a high standard of care and to ‘learning lessons on occasions when we fall short’, and that the incident has been shared within their multidisciplinary antimicrobial stewardship group for further learning and awareness.
Jack’s parents, Margaret and Graham, are now calling on the NHS to carry out a review of how it communicates with grieving families to prevent others suffering as they have said: “Jack was a truly incredible young man who embraced every aspect of life, and we miss him very much.
“After Jack passed away we received what we felt was a really a dismissive letter from the Trust that read very much as though they were washing their hands of the matter.
“This has been a very long and difficult four years for us both, but this letter finally feels like some justice and accountability has been taken by the trust for its failure to care for Jack.
“Looking to the future, we would urge East Cheshire NHS Trust and the wider NHS to think more carefully about how they communicate with grieving families in cases such as this.
“The previous letter we had received, which was supposed to act as an apology, simply came across as heartless, and the emotional impact that has had on us has been really very significant. No family should have to fight so hard, and for so long, to be treated with respect and empathy.”
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