Ambulance fault led to delay in transfer of critically ill baby who died at Norfolk hospital

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: PA

A fault within an ambulance carrying a critically ill baby resulted in a hospital transfer delay of more than one hour.

However, evidence given at Norfolk Coroner's Court yesterday determined the delay did not contribute towards the infant's death.

Skye Hennells died several hours after an operation at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on July 4 last year.

An inquest heard how the one-month-old baby had been suffering from a swollen bowel and required urgent surgery.

But there were delays transferring her to the hospital after the air conditioning unit of the ambulance she was placed in exploded.

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She was initially taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on July 3 after becoming ill at her parents' home in Newton, Wisbech.

But it was decided she required surgery and should be sent to the N&N. Neil Weaver, from the St John Ambulance Acute Neonatal Transfer Service based in Cambridge, was tasked with the transfer.

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He said: 'At 2pm we left the hospital. I got into the cab, but as I turned the engine on a member of the team called through to say it was warm in the back and the patient was already running a temperature.'

In a statement Mr Weaver said he put on the air conditioning, but something went wrong as he turned on the ignition.

He added: 'I heard an explosion from above my head and saw that the rear of the vehicle was filling with smoke.'

Skye was immediately taken back into the hospital and a replacement vehicle was dispatched from Cambridge.

The inquest heard how the infant did not arrive at the N&N until shortly after 5pm.

Dr David Booth, the hospital's on-call consultant for the intensive neonatal unit, said the infant was taken straight in for surgery.

Following the operation to remove a section of her bowel, the inquest heard how Skye remained unstable throughout the night.

Despite the best efforts of doctors and surgeons, she was pronounced dead at 8.45am.

The two-day inquest is due to finish today.

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