Wigan toddler found dead in bed just hours after being sent home from A&E
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An A&E doctor had diagnosed that 22-month-old Hailey Thompson had a virus and family should just keep giving her fluids and paracetamol.
But early next day her mum and dad entered her bedroom to find her unresponsive.
Guided by a 999 operator on the phone, distraught father Kris carried out CPR. A fast response paramedic took over before the Ashton tot was rushed to Wigan Infirmary; but revival efforts were in vain.
An investigation has now been launched after Kris, 32, and 35-year-old partner Ibolya Adam complained that their daughter’s case was not taken seriously enough while A&E was experiencing one of its busiest ever days. A “critical incident” was later declared by the overwhelmed department.
The couple want to know why no blood samples were taken for testing when they took Hailey into Wigan Infirmary casualty “gasping for breath like a 90-year-old.”
The doctor had sounded her chest and declared it clear, taken a blood sugar test and tried to monitor her heart rate. An attempt to check her tonsils using a tongue depressor, they say, was abandoned because of the youngster struggling, clamping her mouth shut and then retching and vomiting.
They were told to take Hailey home, keep her hydrated and dosed with child paracetamol and, if she hadn’t improved in three days, to bring her back to A&E.
But tragically the youngster had died within 24 hours. A post-mortem examination can only take place at Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital on December 28 so until then there is only speculation about the cause of death.
Hailey attended Mere House nursery in Ashton which adjoins Nicol Mere Primary which her seven-year-old sister Charlotte attends and there have been cases of scarlet fever there.
But Charlotte has only become ill more recently than Hailey, who was first started with a cough and runny nose on December 7.
Another theory is that she developed sepsis.
That would draw sad parallels with the case of five-year-old Theodore Cheetham Serjent who was misdiagnosed with gastroenteritis by a Wigan A&E doctor in 2019, was sent home but died a very short time later from what turned out to be meningococcal septicaemia.
Police were obliged to investigate Hailey’s death but have already concluded there are no suspicious circumstances and passed details onto the coroner.
Kris said: “We can’t believe we have lost our little girl. It all happened so quickly. Something in her body took control of her.
"When we found her at 5.30am on Monday (December 19) she was lying in exactly the same position I had seen her in when I went to bed at midnight, only she was stiff and her skin discoloured.
"It was a horrible sight and will haunt me for the rest of my life.
"We knew in our hearts she had gone but I rang 999 and screamed down the phone that our daughter was dying so they got me to do CPR until the fast response paramedic arrived.
"But she couldn’t revive her and she was pronounced dead at hospital.
"We want answers. How can a healthy baby die in her sleep? And why wasn’t she tested for strep A, scarlet fever or Covid for instance?”
Hailey had been intermittently off colour for 12 days. She had been to see a GP who prescribed antibiotics but she had an allergic reaction to them, coming out in a rash, so her parents stopped them after a couple of days.
She seemed to rally and was well enough to attend nursery on Thursday December 16, but the following day she was sent home early and then went to a pre-arranged appointment at Ashton medical centre where the GP said she had a viral infection so there was no point giving her anti-biotics and the parents should continue doing the right thing by giving her fluids and Calpol or Nurofen.
On the Saturday she was well enough to be running around and jumping up and down when the football was on the telly, and also ate and drank well. She went to bed at her usual time of 6.30pm, but when Kris was retiring five hours later he looked in on her and her breathing was loud and laboured, like panting, he said.
He rang 999 and was told that an ambulance would be there soon, but after 15 to 20 minutes, an ambulance did not arrive so he tried NHS 111 only to be informed there would be a two-hour wait. The ambulance service then rang back and advised they drove Hailey to A&E which they did, arriving at 1am on Sunday.
After triage they waited for four hours, were then shown to a cubicle but it was another hour and a quarter before a doctor examined her, came to his diagnosis after using a stethoscope, testing for blood sugar and then being unable to check her tonsils before telling them to go home.
The family arrived home at 6.30am and Hailey went straight to sleep. She awoke at lunchtime but was coughing, had a runny nose and no energy, just sitting on the sofa all afternoon, which was completely out of character, her parents said.
She was put to bed and drank fluids at 6.15pm, Ibolya gave her Calpol at 9pm and Kris checked her when he came to bed at midnight, saying her breath was like it had been before but lighter.
Less than six hours later the couple made the most tragic of discoveries.
A spokesperson for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our sincere condolences go out to Hailey’s family at this tragic time. We are aware of the family’s concerns and are currently awaiting further information to understand more.”