Bristol Children’s Hospital has been heavily criticised after consultants plotted to delete a voice recording, in which they admitted errors could have contributed to a baby’s death.

Benjamin Condon was born prematurely in February 2014. He was released from hospital two months later, but after three days developed a severe cough.

His parents, Allyn and Jenny, took him to Weston General Hospital where he was then transferred to Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Ben was diagnosed with a respiratory virus, but while in hospital he also picked up a bacterial infection that required antibiotics.

Sadly treatment was significantly delayed and he died of sepsis and organ failure, aged just eight weeks old.

At the time his parents were not told of this second infection, and were instead told their son had died of a cold-like virus.

“Incorrect information”

When they eventually discovered the truth two months later, they requested a meeting with the hospital.

They met with two consultants and one hospital manager on 22 July 2014, during which they openly recorded the discussion on their mobile phone.

During a break in the meeting, Allyn and Jenny stepped outside but left their phone recording on the table.

The clinicians continued to discuss the care Ben received, admitting that his parents had been given “incorrect information” and saying they struggled to see “why he wasn’t given antibiotics” earlier.

They then realise their admissions have been taped and discuss deleting it, both from their own recording device and from the mobile phone.

“That could get us in to difficulty”

One consultant is heard saying “is there any possibility of taking off that last bit…I just forgot that it was still recording and…that could get us in to difficulty.”

In the end the recording was not deleted, but Allyn and Jenny were not told of the conversation and only discovered the cover-up when they listened back to the recording.

The incident led to an independent report being commissioned by hospital bosses. The report, which was recently published, criticised the hospital for its actions. It read:

“The Trust failed to share important findings with the parents and give definite answers to the parent’s questions. There was a delay in the complaint investigations getting underway.”

“There was a failure to recognise one of the most serious allegations being made by the parents – why a clinician would want a conversation deleted and why a senior manager would agree to do it – irrespective of whether any deletion actually happened.”

Ben’s father said he was pleased with the outcome of the report, but the hospital needs to “investigate the fact that Ben’s death was covered up.”

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