A six-month-old baby died while waiting for a potentially lifesaving heart operation that got delayed because there weren’t enough beds, an inquest has heard.
Iris Day, who was born with a heart defect and Down’s syndrome, died on December 2 last year, a week before she was due to have surgery on December 9 at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
An inquest in Chelmsford heard that a scheduled operation on November 25 was cancelled due to a lack of beds, and another on November 30 was also put on hold after another ill child took priority.
There had been earlier delays available at the start of November but Iris, whose family live in Great Braxted, Essex, had a viral infection and the risks of surgery were deemed too high.
Marilyn McDougall, a paediatric intensive care consultant at Evelina hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, investigated the cancellations.
She told the hearing at Essex Coroner’s Court the first cancellation was when Iris was ‘unwell and in intensive care’ with a viral infection.
The next cancellation was due to a ‘lack of intensive care beds’
Referring to the third cancellation, Ms McDougall said: ‘There was another emergency case that day. Unfortunately that child on intensive care was critically unwell.’
‘Although it was extremely unfortunate, I don’t think any of those factors were incorrect given the evidence at the time.’
She said that cancelled operations were ‘unfortunately much more frequent than we would like’, with 120 this year to date.
She added there are plans for an additional 10 intensive care beds at the hospital, which are due to be in place by May.
Iris’s parents Ben Day, 41, and his wife Hannah, 29, had taken their daughter home to Essex as they awaited her scheduled operation on December 9.
Iris was admitted to Colchester Hospital on December 2 with breathing problems and died later that day as a result of her unrepaired heart defect – complete atrioventricular septal defect.