Doctor stopped life-saving procedure to answer call

joanna brewerton with premature isabellina who died at St George's hospital
joanna brewerton with premature isabellina who died at St George's hospital

THE Bexhill parents of a dying baby girl were stunned as a doctor broke off from trying to save her life to answer his mobile phone.

Mum Joanna Brewerton and partner Kevin Bennett, of Haslam Crescent, claim that consultant Dr Nigel Kennea, of St George’s Hospital, took a call and left 33 day old Isabellina in the care of a nurse.

Their baby daughter, who was born prematurely at 25 weeks and four days and had developed severe complications, died a few minutes later.

The NHS Trust which runs the hospital has said an independent review has found their daughter’s care had not “failed” but the parents are unhappy with the treatment she received.

Dr Kennea was using the ‘Tom Thumb’ oxygen mask, a device to resuscitate babies, when the couple realised there was a vibrating buzzing sound; he patted his back pocket, took his mobile out, and walked off.

Joanna said: “Our daughter is dying.

“Her heart is slowing right down. And he put the equipment down, turned to the sister and said - oh, I’ve got to take this, and walks away. Kevin and I stood there in shock. He was the most capable person in that room, and we saw him walk off.”

Dr Kennea has since apologised, and the hospital has stressed the phone call he took was “urgent” to save the life of another baby and had no bearing on the outcome.

Isabellina arrived 13 weeks prematurely at East Surrey Hospital on September 28 and was transferred to the neonatal unit at St George’s Hospital in South London.

Joanna, 43, had been experiencing problems but went off to lunch with a friend in Horsham, ending up in full-blown labour in the back of an ambulance. Isabellina weighed just 970 grams.

Joanna has paid tribute to the care and dedication shown by staff at St George’s Hospital, and said: “They did a fantastic job keeping our daughter alive for five weeks.

Joanna and Kevin kept a cotside vigil but Isabellina, who had a hole in her heart, then developed a condition called necrotising enterolcolitis and deteriorated suddenly on October 30.

The couple have concerns and misgivings about what they see as discrepancies in treatment - such as the evening they were told to go out to dinner and on their return were shocked to find Isabellina was intubated and in intensive care. They believe there were other inconsistencies and events which have added to their doubts.

Miles Scott of St George’s Hospital NHS Trust commented: “Whilst we are pleased that an independent expert review found that “there was nothing to suggest Isabellina had been failed in relation to the care she received”, we do not underestimate the grief suffered by her parents.”

Dr Kennea and his team did all they could for Isabellina.

We repeat our sympathies to her family and are continuing our dialogue with them to fully explain her treatment and the trust’s mobile phone policy.”