Kayden Bancroft was admitted to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in 2016 But he was ‘put in a room and left’ despite intense pain as car crash was priority. Eventually had surgery but suffered a fatal brain injury through lack of oxygen. Hospital’s surgeons said there could be more tragedies if there wasn’t a rethink A toddler died at a top children’s hospital after bosses became too focused on tackling swollen waiting lists rather than on emergency care, surgeons claimed.
Kayden Bancroft, aged 20 months, was admitted to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after being diagnosed with a hernia following a fall. But his anguished family claim he was ‘basically put in a room and left’ despite suffering intense pain while they were told he couldn’t have an operation as there were no beds or a car crash victim had taken priority.
They say Kayden went into cardiac arrest but because an emergency phone line was down, and it took nearly 30 minutes to resuscitate him. Finally he had surgery to repair the hernia, but tragically he had suffered severe brain injury through being starved of oxygen and died two days later. Surgeons from the hospital claimed emergency cases were not being given sufficient priority and warned there could be more tragedies if there wasn’t a rethink. One, Basem Khalil, told the BBC: ‘We just worry how many more children must die before management is held to account and before the right changes are made.’
Kayden was brought into Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, on April 11 last year after falling and banging his mouth on his bottle, causing his lips to turn blue, the BBC reported. Staff discovered that he had a hole in his diaphragm which had probably been there since birth, causing his bowel to enter his chest. They requested a transfer to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH) for an operation to repair the hernia, but no intensive care bed was available.
The following day, he was transferred, but only to an ordinary ward. According to his family, surgery was repeatedly delayed over the following week, while Kayden deteriorated. ‘His care was appalling,’ his grandmother, Julie Rowlands, told the BBC. ‘He was basically put in a room, and left. ‘And all we got, nearly every day, was, “He’s not having the operation today, he’s not having the operation today.” ‘They were coming up with excuses, “There’s no bed, or a car crash victim’s come in.” ‘That’s all we got, all the time we were there, was excuses.’
On April 14, according to the BBC, a locum consultant requested that a planned elective surgery list be cancelled to allow him to carry out the operation, but this was vetoed by management. The trust is understood to say it has no record of this request. However the following night, Kayden went into cardiac arrest, and problems with an emergency phone line meant it took nearly 30 minutes to resuscitate him. Tragically he had suffered severe brain injury and died two days later. According to the BBC, Kayden’s mother Shannon, 19, is struggling to cope and has been left feeling suicidal. ‘I wanted to strangle somebody,’ Mrs Rowlands told them. ‘You don’t expect to take a baby to hospital and come away without one.
Especially when you’ve got one hospital telling you that it’s such a simple operation.’ According to the BBC the trust’s own investigation found ‘significant problems’ with his care which was ‘not timely and resulted in his death’. It reportedly recommended the hospital carry out an urgent review into ‘prioritising non-electives above elective cases’. Surgeons told the BBC that they had repeatedly tried to warn trust management about a shortage of emergency operating theatres and intensive care beds at the hospital. Mr Khalil said a surgeon who offered to cancel his elective list and operate on Kayden as an emergency ‘did not receive the support that he needed’.
‘That should not have happened,’ he told the BBC. ‘There should have been support to say if we have children on the emergency list, they need to be done, and they should take priority over elective lists.’ Mr Khalil said waiting lists at the hospital had become dangerous. ‘The waiting list in the children’s hospital has basically ballooned over the last few years,’ he said. ‘We now have hundreds of children who have waited over a year to have their surgery done.
‘They were giving elective cases priority, but it almost became like a culture, that it is difficult to cancel elective cases to do emergency cases.’ According to the BBC, internal figures from January show 6,185 children were waiting for a procedure, with 1,102 children having waited for over a year. A second surgeon, James Morecroft, who retired from the same hospital this year, told the BBC: ‘There was a desire in the hospital to do the elective workload, perhaps at the expense of some of the emergency stuff.’
The trust which runs hospital admits that failings occasionally occurred, according to the BBC. Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust said: ‘Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital faces huge demands for its services and occasionally failings regrettably do occur.’ But it insisted: ‘We believe that there are sufficient theatres in our children’s hospital to cope with the demand for emergency cases; however, on occasions some children do have to wait for urgent surgery while emergency surgery takes place.
‘The trust would like to make it clear that at no time has it directed clinical staff to prioritise elective over non-elective care. ‘As is the case at most similar hospitals, elective cases are regularly cancelled to accommodate emergency patients.’ Lawyer Stephen Clarkson, from Slater and Gordon, who represented the family, said: ‘The real tragedy here is that Kayden’s death was entirely preventable. ‘If he had been operated on earlier, then he would have survived. ‘It is deeply concerning that this happened at one of the country’s leading hospitals for children, and that is why it is so important that the trust looks closely at what went wrong and what can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child.’