Inquest Records Narrative Verdict Following Tragic Death Of Birmingham Toddler

Lawyer Welcomes Hospital’s Formal Admission That Fatal Errors Were Made


The mother of a toddler who was falsely accused of murdering her own son when he died in his sleep days after being sent home from hospital, today spoke of her heartache after an inquest heard that doctors and nurses made critical errors in his care.

Alfie Podmore was just three years old when his worried family took him to Birmingham Children’s Hospital A&E Department on Thursday, February 3rd 2011 as he was vomiting blood, had a high temperature, left shoulder pain and a rash. Recording a narrative verdict Birmingham Coroner, Aidan Cotter, stated that Alfie died following a failure by the hospital to diagnose his illness correctly. The inquest heard how doctors should have performed an x-ray which could have identified that he was suffering from pneumonia.

Now, as part of a separate civil claim for damages, the hospital has admitted that prompt antibiotic treatment would in all likelihood have saved little Alfie’s life. However, he was wrongly diagnosed as suffering from a gastric illness and was sent home with antacid medication.

On the morning of Sunday 6th February, Mum, Abby Podmore, a trainee dental nurse, woke to find her son wasn’t breathing. Despite desperate attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at his home by paramedics. However, within an hour of Alfie’s death a devastated Abby was arrested on suspicion of murder and held in custody overnight. It was only after a doctor, acting on behalf of the Sudden Unexplained Death In Infancy Investigation (SUDII) protocol confirmed that Alfie had died of natural causes, that the police realised Abby was completely innocent.

Following today’s inquest hearing, a medical lawyer from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors confirmed that Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has now formally admitted liability for failings in Alfie’s care and has offered the Podmore family a full and unreserved apology.

Tom Riis Bristow, a medical law solicitor with law firm, Irwin Mitchell, who is representing the family, said: “Today’s inquest and the admission of liability by the Trust as part of the civil claim has proved what Abby and her family believed all along – that Alfie’s tragic death could so easily have been avoided if he had received proper medical care when he was taken to hospital.

“They are thankful to the Coroner for investigating Alfie’s death so thoroughly and whilst the formal admission of liability and apology from Birmingham Children’s Hospital is welcomed, sadly it does not turn back the clock. The hospital has assured Abby that the subsequent internal investigation has led to important lessons being learnt and a number of changes to procedures have since been made which will hopefully mean that no other family has to suffer the same heartbreak.

“Abby remains extremely angry about the heavy-handed way in which the police handled Alfie’s tragic death. She has now called on Irwin Mitchell’s Police complaints team for help and has made a formal complaint to the Police which is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Abby Podmore commented: “Alfie was my whole world. I loved him so much and did the very best I could for him.

“I knew in my heart that I couldn’t have done any more for my little boy. I put my trust in the hospital and believed the doctors and nurses when they told me he would be okay and to take him home. I am now expecting another baby in November and it’s hard coping with the thought that Alfie won’t be around to get to know his little brother or sister.

“I don’t know how I will ever trust medical professionals or the police ever again after the heartache they have put me and my family through. I just hope that lessons are learnt from what has happened because no-one else deserves to go through the hell that we have suffered.”