Care failings cost Lucy her life

Lucy Goulding's family
Lucy Goulding's family

A TEENAGER might not have died had medical staff taken her ‘life-changing’ headaches more seriously.

The family of Lucy Goulding, who died from a brain tumour aged 16, heard how ‘failings’ in her care and ‘perverse’ decision-making led to her untimely death, at an inquest at Centenary House, in Durrington, on Thursday.

Over a two month period, beginning in May, Lucy suffered from severe chronic headaches, sickness and dizziness, which prompted three visits to her GP and an admission to Worthing A&E.

Lucy’s GP Jaspar Mahil put her illness down to tension from her exams and the potential development of migraines.

On June 26, the day before her death, Lucy’s mum, Antonella Goulding, of Ringmer Road, Worthing, claimed an A&E registrar wanted to discharge Lucy as she was “a community case” and they were in a hospital for people who were “really ill.”

Almost four hours after attending, Lucy was admitted to a ward, however, received no neurological examination.

At around 3am on June 27 Lucy said: “I can’t take anymore and just want to die.” Mrs Goulding said Lucy closed her eyes and stopped breathing.

While in a coma she was taken for a scan which showed a tumour on the brain. She was transferred to Southampton General Hospital but was pronounced brain dead on arrival.

Mr Aabir Chakraborty, the consultant paediatric neurosurgeon, drained fluid from Lucy’s brain and attempted to remove the tumour. Lucy was removed from life support shortly afterwards.

Antonella Goulding said: “In the evening Lucy’s dad and I had to tell our 12-year-old son that Lucy wasn’t coming home anymore and we couldn’t say why.”

Coroner Dr Karen Henderson gave a narrative conclusion that Lucy died a brainstem death arising from raised inter-cranial pressure as a result of a benign tumour.

She said: “I appreciate that tumours are rare but I found no evidence this was taken into account.

“Her headaches were incapacitating, they were life changing. Her symptoms were not taken with sufficient seriousness and neither was Mrs Goulding’s anxieties.

“No-one believed either Lucy or Mrs Goulding at any time after her admission until the time of her Lucy’s death. There was little or no consideration given to the fact Lucy may have had an organic condition.

“It seems given Lucy’s symptoms, which were real and genuine, I find it almost perverse that a scan was not carried out.”

Dr Tim Taylor, consultant paediatrician and chief of service for women and children at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Mahil and Dr Mwape Kabole, consultant paediatrician at Worthing Hospital all apologised to Lucy’s family for the chain of events leading up to her death.

Dr Taylor said:“We deeply regret what happened to Lucy and the failings in her care and offer our sincere apologies to her family.

“We have carried out a full investigation, which has been externally scrutinised and made changes as a result. All paediatric patients are now seen by a consultant paediatrician at the beginning of the day and reviewed by the on-call consultant at evening handover. At night, patients are reviewed by the experienced paediatrician on-site and discussed with the consultant.

“We have also carried out a series of training sessions with our clinical teams, involving colleagues from Southampton, to ensure appropriate lessons are learned.”

For a full report, see the Worthing Herald, Thursday, December 19.