Luke Jenkins death: Bristol hospital staff 'panicked'

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Media captionLuke Jenkins had successfully undergone a third heart operation at Bristol children's hospital

The father of a boy who died following heart surgery has told an inquest of panic and a lack of organisation among hospital staff.

Luke Jenkins, seven, of Cardiff had successful heart surgery at Bristol Children's Hospital on 30 March 2012.

Stephen Jenkins said after surgery, Luke had only had "sporadic observation checks" and when he suffered a cardiac arrest, "everyone seemed to panic".

The inquest at Avon Coroner's Court is scheduled to last for two weeks.

Luke, who was born with a congenital heart defect, was expected to make a full recovery after having the corrective surgery.

'Withdrawn and very quiet'

In a written statement, Mr Jenkins said he thought Luke spent about three days on a high dependency unit following the operation but was transferred to Ward 32 the following day.

He said that while his son was on that ward, he and his partner "had concerns that Luke was not receiving the appropriate level of care and therefore we requested that he return to the paediatric intensive care unit".

"Our request was denied and Luke remained on Ward 32."

He said the ward had "seemed short-staffed and one of the nurses told me she had been called in by an agency and she was from Cardiff too".

He added that "throughout those first two days, there were sporadic observation checks".

Mr Jenkins said that on 2 April, his son had "complained of pain in his abdomen".

He said a subsequent X-ray had shown Luke's chest was filled with fluid, which had to be surgically drained.

The next day, Mr Jenkins said Luke had "seemed withdrawn and very quiet" and he had "had to ask for pain relief for Luke because the nurses did not routinely check".

"I began to notice Luke's vital signs changing with an increase in heart rate and his blood pressure beginning to decrease.

"We told the nurse that we wanted Luke to go to intensive care and we were very agitated that nothing was being done."

'No organisation'

The court heard on 6 April, Luke began complaining of severe chest pains and before the cause could be investigated, he suffered a cardiac arrest.

"We believe it took between six and eight minutes before any proper alarms were raised and we were left holding an oxygen mask over his face," Mr Jenkins said.

"There did not seem to be any organisation and everyone seemed to panic.

"Eventually, the resuscitation team arrived and one of the doctors seemed quite agitated and asked staff what had gone on.

"We were then told that he was seriously unwell and may not survive."

Luke was then moved to intensive care where, on 9 April, Mr Jenkins said that his partner, Faye Valentine, 28, took the decision to switch off their son's life support machine.

He added that the couple had had him christened and cuddled him as he died.

The inquest continues.

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