Inquest hears Wigan hospital not at fault after six-year-old’s death

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

Wigan Infirmary was not at fault for the death of a ‘happy and healthy’ six-year-old boy who died after contracting an ear infection, an inquest has heard.

The parents of Connor Horridge, from Platt Bridge, who died after developing two viruses and later sepsis were commended for their critique of the medical action taken leading up to their son’s death.

I will be in distress for the rest of my life

Joanne Horridge

The ‘cheeky, bright’ and ‘vivacious’ St Mary’s Primary pupil tragically died at Wigan Infirmary from Septicaemia just a week before Christmas last year following a 10-day bout of Gastro-enteritis and an ear infection.

An inquest, led by Mr Timothy Brennand at Bolton Coroner’s Court, explored the possibility that clinicians missed signs of Septacaemia which resulted in Connor’s rapid decline and led to his untimely death.

Connor’s parents bravely questioned experienced medical practioners during the hearing, asking why their son had not had his blood tested earlier and why he had been allowed home on four separate occasions despite his worsening symptoms

A tearful Joanne Horridge, Connor’s mum, described the 10 days before his death on December 18 and how his condition worsened even though she was told by doctors that it was just a virus.

“My beautiful six-year-old Connor has left me with cherished memories,” she said. “I feel it could have been prevented if he had been examined properly - he would still be here.

“I think the hospital should test children’s blood. They don’t like doing it as it causes distress to a child - but my child was in distress for 10 days- he didn’t drink or eat.

“I will be in distress for the rest of my life.”

The inquest heard how Connor had been staying with his dad, Thomas Horridge in Leigh on December 8 when he began to complain of ear ache.

Connor, who was usually a “cheeky little boy”, became very sleepy over the next few days and was vomiting “constantly”.

On December 11, becoming increasingly concerned that the illness was not going to be shaken off, his parents took him for an assesment with GP Dr Gopal

At this stage, an assessment was carried out and Connor was deemed to be suffering from a viral ear infection, which is common in young children.

The family were told to bring him back if the symptoms worsened.

In the following week Joanne and Thomas grew increasingly concerned about their son, eventually calling an ambulance on December 14 due to his high temperature and his inability to eat or drink anything substantial.

Once again Connor was assessed and discharged before returning again on December 17, the day before he died for another consultation.

Connor’s mum described the agonising moments leading up to his death on December 18, when, at around 1pm she decided to take her son to the out of hours GP surgery as he still was not improving.

“I got him dressed and was walking him across the car park and he went ‘mum, my legs’ and he just hit the floor,” she said.

“I picked him up and carried on and he collapsed again. I ran him home in my arms. He was in my partner’s arms while I was on the phone.”

When paramedics arrived they immediately suspected septic shock and rushed him to hospital, but unfortunately the young boy passed away despite numerous resuscitation attempts.

The inquest heard evidence from numerous clinicians including Dr Melanie Newbould, the pathologist who conducted a post Mortem, as well as senior nurses from both Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust and Bridgewater NHS Trust who arranged community nursing aftercare for Connor.

Each doctor who assessed Connor diagnosed Gastro-enteritis and said that his symptoms did not show those of sepsis at the time of his visit.

Crucial evidence was given by Dr Martin Farrier, associate director of medicine at WWL.

He said: “I do not understand for a moment that people could understand what was going to happen.

“It is not plausible that he could have survived another 26 hours before he finally died. It would not be reasonable to consider when he was seen at the hospital on the 17th December that he was already septic but not noticed.

“It was a reasonable and appropriate assessment.”

The trust did acknowledge that on Connor’s final visit there was a “missed opportunity” to have him assessed by a senior consultant, but Dr Farrier testified that this would not have changed the decision to discharge him that afternoon.

Following numerous pieces of evidence, including distressing images of Connor just hours before the sepsis took hold, Mr Brennand concluded that he died of natural causes.

He added, speaking directly to Mr and Ms Horridge: “The dignity you have shown, the strength that you have demonstrated, the smile on your faces whenever Connor is mentioned alerts me so much to the place of affection that he had an always will have in your hearts.

“I salute you. I am amazed at the depth of understanding and the proper way in which you have participated in this inquest.”