Parents accuse hospital after their baby’s death

By Keren David, July 23, 2009

The distraught parents of a baby who died after contracting pneumonia have asked police to investigate their claims of negligence by the Royal London Hospital.

Meanwhile, the medical director of another east London hospital has refuted “malicious” texts about the case.

Leah and Chaim Herkovitch’s daughter, Shiri, was four months old when she died at the Royal London on July 11. Her parents had briefly left her bedside to visit their other three children at home in Stamford Hill, north London.

They claim that during her stay at the hospital, her alarm monitor was going off, and family friend Rachel Bublil, who runs a support service offering help to members of the Charedi community in their dealings with non-Jewish services, alleges that nurses were not checking the baby properly.

“They were told that the baby was safe and stable, so they went to spend a few hours with their other children,” said Mrs Bublil. “While they were away, they were told that the baby was crying and screaming. She turned blue and went floppy, but it took a full five minutes for staff to realise. By the time they tried to resuscitate her, it was too late.”

Rumours about the incident have spread through the Stamford Hill community since Shiri died and, according to John Coakley, medical director of the Homerton Hospital, “malicious” texts have been circulating in the area, accusing the hospital of being responsible for Shiri’s death and stating that a doctor has already been arrested. He stressed that none of this was true.

“We have an extremely friendly relationship with our local Orthodox Jewish community, and three of our governors come from that community,” Mr Coakley said. “They are very upset at the rumours that are being passed around.”

He said that Shiri had been treated by the Homerton and was found to have a very complex congenital condition. She was referred to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and later transferred to the Royal London. “None of our doctors have been arrested and there is no police investigation at the Homerton,” he said. “We were just the referring hospital.”

Mrs Bublil said that the family knew nothing of a text campaign. She denied that the baby had been diagnosed with a serious congenital condition. “That is just unbelievable,” she said. “She was born prematurely, but there was nothing else wrong with her.”

The Royal London Hospital issued a statement extending sympathy to the family.

“The death of a child is always tragic. We have conducted a medical review of her care, and to the best of our knowledge, appropriate care was given. However, in light of the family’s continued concerns, we are undertaking further investigation into the care of baby Shiri.

“When she was referred to us from Great Ormond Street Hospital, we had understood that she was a very sick baby from birth and had significant complications. We have invited the family to meet us to discuss the case.”

The baby’s funeral and shiva has already taken place.

Last updated: 5:23pm, July 23 2009