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Hospital Apologises After Baby Died From Meningitis Due To A&E Failures

Parents Speak Out To Raise Awareness of Fatal Disease Symptoms


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The parents of a seven-month-old boy who died from meningitis after receiving “wholly inappropriate” care at Epsom hospital say they hope his death brings about change after the hospital apologised for its mistakes.

Banstead baby Oliver Hull’s parents took him to A&E after he was vomiting, had a fever and felt unwell for a couple of days in May 2014. But staff at Epsom Hospital did not examine him appropriately and he was discharged from hospital just over four hours later with a suspected upper respiratory tract infection. He continued to be unwell and died just two days later from a rare strain of meningitis.

The family instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to assist them at an inquest into Oliver’s death and to represent them in their legal battle for answers as to what happened as they were becoming frustrated with a lack of transparency in the responses they were receiving from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

After Irwin Mitchell wrote to the Trust, it has since admitted that had Oliver been provided with appropriate standard of care, he would have been given antibiotics and an undisclosed settlement has now been agreed with the family.

In its letter of response to Irwin Mitchell the NHS Trust said it “would like to extend its’ sincere apologies to the Claimant and her family for the failures that have occurred on this occasion and for the very sad outcome.  We would like to reassure her that lessons have been learnt from Oliver’s death”.

Expert Opinion
“This was a really tragic case and the family wants lessons to be learned and to raise awareness of the illness and the seriousness of meningitis symptoms. They have been fundraising for Meningitis Research Foundation and the Meningitis Now charity, both of which are really close to their hearts.

“The level of care in this case fell below the acceptable standards with devastating consequences for the family. Nothing can turn back the clock for them but it is some comfort that through the inquest and the medical negligence legal process issues have been identified that the NHS can now learn from to reduce the risk of similar incidents in the future.”
Ania Bean (Nee Lysanowicz), Solicitor

Oliver’s mother, Abigail Hull, from Banstead, said: “We were obviously left devastated by Oli’s death. He was usually such a happy and healthy baby and I took him to hospital late at night because of how serious I thought his condition was. We didn’t want to take any chances and we thought we were in the best possible place but on this occasion we feel we were badly let down.

“We instructed lawyers because we felt there were unnecessary delays and a lack of transparency in the information we were receiving from the NHS Trust about what happened to Oli and we needed help.  We have since found out through the legal process that the doctors should have considered more serious conditions bearing in mind Oli’s symptoms, that he should not have been discharged from hospital and that he should have received antibiotics.  We only hope that the Trust has learned lessons as it now suggests and that Oli’s death has not been in vain.

“To lose your child to an illness that is both preventable and treatable is a tragedy.

“By sharing our story we hope to save lives in the future as people become more aware of the symptoms and of the impact this horrible disease can have.  We have always wanted something positive to come from Oli’s death and this is why we have decided to fundraise for Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Now, which are amazing charities.”

Meningitis Now CEO Liz Brown said: “This situation is one that we, at Meningitis Now, work hard to avoid through raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms with health professionals and the public. We were saddened to hear about Oliver’s death and would like to take the opportunity to pass on our thoughts to the Hull family and also highlight how important it is for people to know about meningitis.

“We would urge everyone to trust their instincts - if people are concerned about their own, or someone else’s health, they must seek medical attention immediately. This is a disease that is complex in its diagnose and can be fatal, as in Oliver’s case, so it is vital that parents are empowered to ask for a second opinion if they are concerned and keep meningitis at the back of their minds at all times.”


At an inquest in Woking in March 2015 the coroner concluded that the care Oliver received in A&E was “wholly inappropriate” and said examinations of him were inadequate. The inquest also heard Epsom Hospital has put in more robust measures for the care of children under one year old brought into A&E.

The NHS Trust admitted that Oliver’s symptoms should have raised concerns and prompted a reasonable standard of emergency medicine doctor to consider the possibility of a serious bacterial infection as opposed to a more benign viral illness. 

While he was at Epsom Hospital Oliver was given paracetamol to bring his temperature down and fluids because he was dehydrated. However the inquest into his death heard that a Paediatric Early Warning score was not completed which could have alerted the staff to his serious illness. Instead there was a focus on his runny nose and he was diagnosed with an infection and discharged.

However the next day he was rushed back to hospital and transferred to Evelina Children’s Hospital where despite the best efforts of staff Oliver passed away in the early hours of Monday, 26 May 2014. 

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Meningitis Claims.

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