17.01.2021

Parents win six-year battle for truth after NHS ‘cover-up’ of son’s death

In 2015, healthcare assistant Lauren Tew, who was with Jonnie and his mother when he died, told the Health Service Journal that a statement in her name submitted to a child death overview panel stating Jonnie had died from a sudden cardiac arrest was false and she had never made such a statement.

The parents of a three-year-old boy whose death was part of an alleged NHS cover-up have won a six year battle for the truth about how he died.

Shropshire coroner John Ellery backed the parents of three-year-old Jonnie Meek in a second inquest into his death on Thursday and rejected evidence from nurses about what happened at Stafford Hospital in August 2014.

Jonnie, who was born with rare congenital disability De Grouchy syndrome, died two hours after being admitted to hospital to trial a new feed which was being fed directly into his stomach.

His parents, John Meek and April Keeling, from Cannock in Staffordshire, have always maintained their son died after a reaction to the milk feed caused him to vomit and suffocate.

But they have been forced to battle what they believe was an attempt to hide what happened after they discovered attempts to alter their son’s medical history with claims he had experienced several cardiac arrests requiring resuscitation which never happened.

After his parents exposed the false statements an independent inquiry was launched, with three independent experts siding with Jonnie’s parents, and in April last year the High Court quashed the original inquest verdict that Jonnie died of natural causes and pneumonia.

After a four-day hearing at Shrewsbury Coroner’s Court, coroner John Ellery said he believed Jonnie had died from a reaction caused by the feed.

While his mother told the inquest she had warned nurses that Jonnie was deteriorating after the feed was started nurse Amanda Shenton contradicted her.

The coroner said: “In as far as there is a discrepancy in the evidence, I accept what the mother says.”

Speaking to The Independent Jonnie’s father said: “This does bring us some peace after six years. For the coroner to say he believes April over the nurses after all this time is a big weight lifted off her.

“The hospital definitely decided to try and cover up what happened to Jonnie. We have always said we knew what happened and this has been a massive waste of resources. I am still very concerned about how these things can happen in the first place.”

Stafford Hospital was the scene of a major care scandal between 2005 and 2009 where hundreds of patients suffered neglect and poor care. A public inquiry was published in 2013 and led to changes in patient safety regulations and the dissolution of the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust, which now runs the Stafford hospital, site was approached for comment.

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