Glasgow & West Scotland

Mother of hospital death boy: 'I've been ignored'

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Media captionVictoria Freeman: "Going through the right procedures, it didn't work, no-one was listening to me and no-one wanted to help - no one at all."

The mother of a boy who died in a Glasgow hospital two years ago has claimed she was ignored by the health board and the Scottish government.

Mason Djemat, three, was being treated at the Royal Hospital for Children and died weeks before Milly Main, 10.

Both children were patients on a ward which was affected by water contamination.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and health secretary Jeane Freeman have apologised to their parents.

But Mason's mother, Victoria Freeman, told BBC Scotland she is still fighting for answers as to why her son never came home.

In her first interview Ms Freeman said: "There was no-one listening to me. No-one wanted to help. No-one at all."

Image copyright Victoria Freeman
Image caption Victoria Freeman called son Mason 'my good boy'

She spoke out after the health secretary's apology, which was made during a statement in the Scottish parliament.

But she believes it did not go far enough.

She also criticised the health secretary's response to her case since she first wrote to her in September last year.

"I don't think that Mason was acknowledged, particularly by her, and I feel that she did not take Mason's death seriously," his mother said.

"If she did maybe we would not be sitting here today speaking about this."

Image caption Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made a statement in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday

Police Scotland investigated the boy's death and have submitted a report to the procurator fiscal.

His mother said Mason had Hunter syndrome, a rare genetic condition, but was strong and "extremely healthy" when he was admitted to the RHC, part of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, for treatment in the summer of 2017.

At the time she said the family were told there was no concern and he would be getting home within weeks.

She added: "He kept me on my feet that whole time. He was running wild, he was always up and playing and enjoyed his lunch and dinner.

"I remember the nurse came in with his food and he was clapping and laughing, he had such a good character about him."

She said she always called Mason "my good boy".

The three-year-old could not fully talk but, on the day he died, he surprised his mother by turning to her for the first time and saying: "Mummy good boy".

She said: "I actually held him so tight and told him he was the best boy."

Image copyright Victoria Freeman
Image caption Mason pictured in the Royal Hospital for Children, just hours before he died

Later that day his mother took a call to say that her son's condition had rapidly and unexpectedly deteriorated.

She recalled: "To be standing in ICU and thinking over in my head 'What's happened?'...I just still don't have the answers and they don't have the answers as well."

Paying tribute to her son, Ms Freeman added: "Mason was the love of my life. Unfortunately I will never be able to replace him. Never.

"He was just really something. I absolutely adored him."

After his death on 9 August 2017 she said she contacted NHSGGC's management department and members of the board but got no response.

"At the time I took myself back to the hospital, I stood in the lobby and I told them I wasn't leaving until someone in charge came and spoke to me," she said.

A general manager invited her into his office for a meeting that proved pivotal.

Ms Freeman added: "I think that if I didn't do that and I didn't have the strength to do that then they would have closed the book on Mason."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Children opened in 2015 and share a campus in the south of Glasgow

The grieving mother said she first took up her case with the government when she wrote to the health secretary in September last year.

She got a response from the management department and then sent two further letters to the health secretary's office.

In February she got a "very scripted" response which stated it would be "inappropriate" for the government to get involved.

Asked how she felt she had been treated, Victoria Freeman replied: "I don't think as a family we have been treated fairly."

She said she kept the matter private and took the "correct steps" to raise her concerns about her son's death.

But she described the Scottish government's response as "shocking" and expressed disappointment that the health secretary had not acknowledged a letter she sent at the weekend, when the story about her son's death broke in the Mail on Sunday.

She added: "It is extremely serious and I think she (health secretary) has to answer not only to my family but to every family involved."

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Media captionJeane Freeman told the BBC on Monday 18 December that she had not been made aware of Mason Djemat's case before seeing it in the newspapers

Mason's mother also criticised the health secretary for stating in a BBC Radio Scotland interview on Monday that she only learned about the case at the weekend.

During First Minister's Questions on Thursday Nicola Sturgeon was asked by acting Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw about the health secretary's response.

Ms Sturgeon told him Health Secretary Jeane Freeman had simply picked up the question wrong.

The first minister added: "I would simply ask him to reflect on why then she would have sought to say that she didn't know about it when there was correspondence in existence that showed that she had."

Mason's mother has requested a meeting with the health secretary and said suggestions the family had been told the cause of death were "totally incorrect".

She added: "There is no confirmation of why my son is not here today."

'Sincerest condolences'

In response to Victoria Freeman's BBC interview, the health secretary said: "I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a child in these circumstances - or the suffering and grief that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

"My sincerest condolences go to Ms Freeman and the other families affected by this."

The health secretary acknowledged she was first contacted by Ms Freeman in "late 2018".

The minister added: "She wrote to me again at the start of this year and I replied, and this was followed by further correspondence just a few days ago.

"I'd like the opportunity to meet with Ms Freeman to listen to her views but also assure her, and the other families affected by this, that we are taking action."

Image copyright Victoria Freeman
Image caption Mason was filmed brushing his teeth during his stay in hospital

An NHSGGC spokesman said: "We are very sorry Ms Freeman feels she has unanswered questions regarding the death of her son, Mason Djemat.

"The case was fully investigated and the outcome shared with the family.

"We met with Ms Freeman on a number of occasions to respond to any concerns she had and can confirm we remain in contact to answer any follow up questions."

An independent review is examining water contamination and other problems at the QEUH campus and will be published in the spring.

A separate public inquiry, which will examine safety and wellbeing issues at the QEUH and the new children's hospital in Edinburgh, is also expected to look at water contamination.

Image copyright Kimberly Darroch
Image caption Milly Main, ten, died at the Royal Hospital for Children on 31 August 2017, three weeks after Mason

Milly's death was made public after Labour MSP Anas Sarwar was contacted by a whistleblower.

The ten-year-old was recovering from leukaemia treatment when she died on 31 August 2017.

Her mother, Kimberly Darroch, told BBC Scotland she was "100%" convinced her death was linked to water contamination issues.

NHSGGC has insisted it was impossible to determine the source of Milly's infection because there was no requirement to test the water supply at the time.

Last week it also emerged a doctor-led review had identified 26 infections at RHC during 2017 which were potentially linked to contaminated water.

The £842m QEUH "super hospital" has faced a number of problems since it opened in 2015.

Two cancer wards at the adjoining children's hospital were closed last year amid concern about infections and investigation of water supply issues, and patients were moved to the adult hospital.

In January it emerged that two patients at the QEUH had died after contracting a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings.

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